The launch of the ASSAf inclusivity initiative for gender equity and persons with disabilities as part of the Science Forum South Africa 2023 panel discussion

Gender equity, disability and inclusivity are human rights issues, and the South African Constitution enshrines the rights of citizens at all levels. The Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 10 promote gender equality and reduced inequalities, respectively. Furthermore, the South Africa’s Decadal Plan in science, technology and innovation (STI) calls for the creation of an inclusive economy and equity ambitions set by the Gender- Responsive Planning Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluation and Auditing Framework. In spite of these legislative prerogatives, initiatives to promote the participation of women and people living with disabilities are slow to produce significant change. ASSAf is no exception in this regard, with 70% of members being male academics and statistics of participation of persons with disabilities is lacking. As a result, ASSAf developed a transformation strategy which incorporated the 2019 White Paper on STI as one of many instruments to guide the organisation in prioritising inclusivity and transformation in STI, and the ASSAf Inclusivity Initiative on Gender Equity and Persons with Disabilities is one such tool. The ASSAf Inclusivity Initiative on Gender Equity and Persons with Disabilities focuses on advancing inclusive participation of persons with disabilities and women in science, technology and innovation within its Membership and within the national system of innovation (NSI). ASSAf launched the Inclusivity Initiative on Gender and Persons with Disabilities during the 2023 Science Forum South Africa in order to raise awareness on the Initiative and to seek partnerships from beyond the academic sector. It is envisioned that the Initiative will also provide ASSAf with a platform to strengthen collaborations with other stakeholders in raising awareness of and in championing solutions to curb the barriers that impede equal opportunities and access to Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) by women, young girls and, persons with disabilities within the National System of Innovation. The participants provided valuable inputs and recommendations which ASSAf will take into consideration in the next phase of the process. Speakers included: Prof Olubukola Oluranti Babalola (ASSAf Member; OWSD; TWAS); Dr Tebogo Mabotha (ASSAf); Dr Anila Pretorious (Wits); Ms Dineo Mmako (DWYPD); Mr Mark Bannister (DWS); Ms Bongiwe Mkhithika (DSI); Mr Gerhard Coetzee (INVEN-D) and Dr Tozama Qwebani (ASSAf). There were over 60 participants in attendance.
10 pages
Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), (2024). The Launch of the ASSAf Inclusivity Initiative for Gender Equity and Persons with Disabilities (Available online) at DOI
Peer review status
Non-Peer Reviewed