Around 30 young girls were handed their certificate by the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa while graduating from STEM Summer Camp 2019 today.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the week-long program saw 5 local female trainers teaching in STEM fields who administered the camp with the NanoGirl Labs team.
Speaking at the event, Minister Vuniwaqa applauded Graduate Women Fiji for this program and noted it to be very timely.
“I wish to thank Fiji Women’s Fund for funding the STEM Summer Camp for Girls and Graduate Women Fiji for making this milestone event possible through their commitment to change the game for women and girls in STEM fields through their networking and innovative programs,” Minister Vuniwaqa said.
“Women have made significant contributions to science, technology and innovation from the earliest times but despite this, we lag far behind men as a share of the workforce in most STEM professions, even as demand for those skills increases in order to help Fiji remain globally competitive.”
Minister Vuniwaqa highlighted that up to 3000 girls around the world would have attended a STEM summer camp between 2013 and 2017 and each year the numbers are growing to achieve gender parity.
“Fiji as a nation has progressed radically over the past decade, and evidently the Fijian Government has strongly committed itself towards women’s equal participation in nation building through legislative reforms, laws, policies, partnerships and programs,” Minister Vuniwaqa stated.
“It is my Ministry’s pledge that we will support the work of the Civil Society and Government alike in advocating for a better, more equitable space for women and girls in STEM because every aspect of women’s equal rights, women’s economic empowerment, and women’s holistic development is crucial to our progress as a people.”
Minister Vuniwaqa urged stronger efforts by schools and tech companies to hire and retain women in STEM jobs and to address the issues that can cause them to leave the field and also challenged the graduates to be the best in their STEM field.