Gender and Innovation: Implications for Sustainable Development. A GenderInSITE Policy Brief

Abreu, Alice (2020-11)

This policy brief considers the importance of applying a gender lens to innovation and sustainable development. It summarizes the key results of the workshop “Gender and Innovation: Implications for Sustainable Development”, held in Pretoria, South Africa, in September 2017. The workshop´s main objectives were to understand and advance the complex road from science to innovation; to explore the differential impact that innovation has on the lives of men and women, especially in terms of new technologies introduced in development programs; to understand the needs of scientific research and education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to support the development of gendered innovation; and to discuss how to bridge the gap between knowledge of STEM and gender issues, and those who need access to this knowledge for policy- and decision-making for effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Important outcomes of the workshop were that a gender perspective (1) leads to better research and innovation in support of sustainable development; (2) provides a basis for an inclusive approach that addresses all forms of inequality; and (3) provides a basis for linking all SDGs. The value of these outcomes to the achievement of the SDGs in developing countries is underscored. In the last three decades, the way we look at gender equity and gender equality in science has changed radically; from viewing women as the main problem and suggesting initiatives that would enable individual women to attain the necessary qualifications to succeed in a scientific career to an understanding that diversity is central to scientific excellence and that institutional structural change is the only way of reaching gender equity in science. This shift in understanding is underpinned by a wealth of research and programs that have given us today a sound knowledge base as to how and why we should apply a gender lens to science and technology (S&T). Some challenges remain, however, and one of them is the understanding of women´s role in science and innovation for development and how this role can be supported by using science, technology and innovation (STI). Over many years, a parallel debate has evolved about the importance of S&T for development, but for many decades this was a genderblind discussion. It was only at the beginning of the twenty-first century that international organizations started factoring in gender as an important issue and highlighting the economic implications of not using the full scientific potential of a country. By focusing on innovation, the need for a gender lens, the importance of gendered innovations for sustainable development and their centrality to the attainment of the SDG targets, this policy brief aims at providing recommendations that are applicable to policy-makers in developing countries.

Author and contributor ORCIDs: Abreu, Alice ORCID
Publisher: Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD); The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS)
Sponsorship: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
Peer review status: Non-Peer Reviewed