The vision of the Office for Outer Space Affairs is to bring the benefits of space to humankind. The Office for Outer Space Affairs is committed to ensuring that those benefits reach women and girls, and that women and girls play an active and equal role in space science, technology, innovation and exploration. This will be the focus of the Office's Space for Women project.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seek to change the course of the twenty-first century by addressing key challenges such as poverty, inequality and violence against women. Women's empowerment is a precondition, as women have a critical role to play in efforts to achieve all of the Sustainable Development Goals, with many targets specifically recognizing women's equality and empowerment both as the objective and as part of the solution.
Space matters when it comes to the right of women to benefit from science and technology and also as a dimension of achieving the SDGs. Space-related science, technology, innovation and exploration will contribute to bettering humankind and the sustainability of our planet within many areas such as agriculture, climate change, disaster response, transportation, health, communication, and many more spinoffs and applications. We must strive to ensure that women have access to these benefits, which unfortunately is now not a given. Moreover, we must also ensure that needs specific to women's and girls' empowerment and gender equality are also prioritized and addressed.
Goal 4 on "Quality education" reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. One of the aims of SDG 4 is to achieve equal and universal access to a quality higher education, which is of utter importance for the STEM fields, as the gap between boys and girls is growing with the level of education. This has direct implications on the opportunities for a better employment and thus results in disparities between salaries of man and women. STEM education plays a major factor in diminishing the disparities as STEM jobs tend to offer highly paying jobs. Space represents a swiftly growing industry and its current value of over $380 billion is estimated to triple in the next 30 years.
Goal 5 on "Gender equality" is known as the stand-alone gender goal because it is dedicated to achieving these ends. SDG 5 targets include ensuring women's empowerment - including at decision-making levels in leadership - in political participation, economic empowerment, ensuring a life free of violence and elimination of harmful practices, control over reproductive health and rights, and reforms to give women access to economic resources including natural resources. Importantly, one of the targets (5b) calls for enhancing the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women. In order to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs wishes to address Sustainable Development Goal 5 in an all-inclusive manner and especially promote space technology in line with target 5b.
The first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE I) was held in 1968. In June 2018 we marked its 50th anniversary (UNISPACE+50) with a dedicated event that offered an appropriate venue to take stock of the contributions of all three UNISPACE conferences, held in 1968, 1982 and 1999 respectively, to global governance of space activities. At its 59th Session in June 2016, the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space endorsed seven thematic priorities for the implementation of UNISPACE+50, including thematic priority 7 (TP7) "capacity-building for the twenty-first century", which is the most cross-cutting aspect of the initiative. Member States seek to define new innovative and effective approaches to overall capacity-building and development needs with a special focus on empowerment of women in developing countries. UNOOSA therefore joined forces with UN Women to organize together a 'Space for Women' Expert Meeting in October 2017.
The two and a half days event brought together decision makers and experts from international organizations, governments and non-governmental organizations as well other high-ranking officials and representatives of the private sector and research institutions to discuss the scope and goals of a 'Space for Women' Project and develop a concrete project together.
The 69 th International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany, again provided an entire day dedicated to Diversity. Several events for an intensive and open exchange on diversity and equality aspects were held and the Director of UNOOSA, Ms. Simonetta Di Pippo, participated in the IAF IDEA "3G" Diversity Breakfast & Afternoon Sessions (3G stands for gender, generation and geography). In the morning session, Ms. Di Pippo delivered a keynote presentation on the Space for Women Project, its history and steps forward, to a wide variety of stakeholders, including high-level representatives from space agencies, capitols, private sector, academia and civil society.
The presentation slides are available here .