Good Morning. I am delighted to welcome you here today to commemorate The International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Thank you for taking the time to be here today to mark this occasion.
In particular, let me thank our hosts, Silverbird Cinemas, Vision 2020 Youth Empowerment and Restoration Initiative, the schools represented here today, and the alumni of U.S. government exchange programs who are here.
According to a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization report, only around 30 per cent of all female students around the world select Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics-related fields in higher education.
Nevertheless, I know the women and girls with us today, especially the young girls, are interested in STEM. That is fantastic! For that, I congratulate you! I applaud your interest in these fields. Why? The reason is simple: today, achievement in STEM-related fields is a key building block for any country’s economic success. With that in mind, friends and allies of Nigeria must encourage and assist Nigeria to succeed in this area.
The world is rapidly changing, thanks to technology and innovations that were unimaginable not that long ago. I think you have heard of many of them: driverless vehicles, drones, lasers, artificial intelligence, robotics, and nanotechnology. If you haven’t heard of them, I recommend that you start reading about them.
Mastering technologies such as these will be key to many of the job opportunities of the future. A future that may seem fantastic right now but shortly, all of the things that I just mentioned will become commonplace. For comparison, think of how fantastic a car must have seemed when most people were riding horses for transportation. Think of how incredible a laptop computer would seem in an era when computers were so large they took up entire rooms. Don’t laugh at the people of that era! Think of what your children or your grandchildren are going to say to you when you describe the old days when people actually had to drive a car. They’ll probably look at you, and say, you are soooo old.
You think that’s funny? Hey, the parents in the room certainly understand, it happens to all of us.
Now, the movie you are about to watch, “Hidden Figures,” presents the true story of three brilliant African-American women who successfully broke racial and gender barriers to contribute to America’s race to the moon. It is very inspiring and I believe it will encourage you to overcome any obstacles and defy and doubters that you may encounter in your pursuit of a career in STEM.
You must be confident in your intelligence and demonstrate the determination and drive to succeed in any career path that you choose.
Challenge yourselves, learn more about successful women in STEM fields, and draw inspiration from them.
The U.S. government is convinced that when barriers to the participation of women and girls in the STEM fields are removed, women do better, families do better, countries do better, and the world does better. Whether at home or abroad, promoting women in the STEM fields is a priority of the U.S. government.
More broadly, the United States has invested millions of dollars to advance gender equality across sub-Saharan Africa, through activities that promote political and economic opportunities for women, access to health and education services, and prevent or respond to gender-based violence.
In closing, I strongly encourage everyone here to think broadly about ways you or your organizations can form partnerships and expand your networks to grow more women STEM leaders.
I hope today’s film will inspire you to pledge to help develop the next generation of STEM women.
Thank you all, enjoy the movie!