What is GenderInSITE?

Gender in science, innovation, technology and engineering (SITE) is an international initiative to promote the role of women in science, innovation, technology and engineering, and to demonstrate how applying a gender lens to SITE can provide deeper insights, more effective programmes and more sustainable outcomes in the context of development.

The global development challenges we face are well known: poverty, lack of institutional capacity, environmental degradation, climate change and increasingly destructive natural disasters, health threats such as HIV/AIDS and malnutrition, and gender inequality. Policy and other decision-makers need to weigh difficult trade-offs at every step, and innovation is critical to countries’ ability to adapt to changing circumstances and contribute to the global knowledge bank.

Yet, in many countries only half of the best ideas are heard – or even voiced. Worldwide, women are poorly represented at decision-making and management levels in the SITE sector. Moreover, studies over the last 20 years show that women and men are actually affected differently when SITE is applied to development. Applying a gender lens to SITE-for-development policies – taking into account the vision, concerns and abilities of both women and men – makes them more effective. Simply looking at development challenges in a different way can provoke deeper insights into more effective, long-term solutions.

GenderInSITE is a programme unit of UNESCO hosted by The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS).


The GIS vision is that equitable and sustainable development can only be achieved if SITE are core elements of development and if both men and women are included in the effort. Only by linking gender, SITE and development will the critical sustainability challenges of our time be addressed in an effective manner.


To support and inspire transformative actions and more effective development by understanding and communicating the impacts of SITE on women and men and how women and men can contribute to SITE, so that more policies and programs in SITE globally take account of gender issues.


We build partnerships among GenderInSITE members to identify, understand, and develop strategies to apply the gender lens to SITE in six key areas: agriculture and food security; water and sanitation; energy; transportation; climate change and disaster & risk reduction; and science education & the workforce. By working with networks of researchers and policy-makers, we are mapping the nuances of local development challenges – and addressing them through information dissemination, tools and resources and awareness-raising activities. Currently, GenderInSITE has two regional focal points: in Africa, and in Latin America & the Caribbean.


GIS aims to contribute to global discussions and mobilize a range of stakeholders at all levels to:

  • raise the awareness of policy- and decision-makers about the gender dimensions of SITE for sustainable development;
  • demonstrate how a gender analysis of SITE can lead to new and more effective strategies for fair and equitable development;
  • highlight women’s role in development and how it can be supported by using science and technology (S&T);
  • promote the contributions to and advancement of women in SITE.

GenderInSITE Africa Regional Focal Point

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) is the African regional focal point for GenderInSITE, tasked with implementing the initiative in the region.

In seeking to contribute to sustainable development in Africa, the GenderInSITE Africa regional focal point has strategically planned its activities in 5 key areas:

  • Policy development;
  • Human capital development;
  • Promotion and awareness-raising;
  • SITE for all, and
  • Building strategic partnerships.

In 2014, ASSAf was successful in its bid to host the regional focal point for southern Africa. In 2019, in response to the expanded scope of its activities, the regional focal point was extended to the whole of Africa.