International and national partners united to promote STEM education and career among adolescent girls
YEREVAN, 14 March 2022 – United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) ImpactAIM accelerator, UNICEF, along with the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs wrapped up the MATEMard campaign on 14 March, the International Day of Mathematics (IDM). MATEMard aimed to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and interest in STEM among adolescents and young people, especially girls, in line with the 2022 theme of the IDM – "Mathematics Unites".
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report of 2021, female STEM attainment was just 10.16 percent, while 22.50 percent for boys in Armenia.
“At UNDP ImpactAIM we have designed Accelerator#5 - a specific program aimed at achieving the SDG 5. Over the last three years, Accelerator #5, in partnership with UNICEF, ISTC, and EIF, has promoted STEM education and careers for more than 1,000 young women and girls in Armenia. MATEMard is a campaign to nudge hundreds of young people across the country to enter STEM,” said Natia Natsvlishvili, Resident Representative of the UNDP in Armenia.
As part of the MATEMard campaign, UNDP and UNICEF initiated a five-day workshop for 10-14-year-old girls in Yerevan from February 21-25, which was followed by another one from February 28- March 4 in Sisian, Syunik region. Participants were the graduates of the Accelerator#5 program by UNDP, ISTC, and UNICEF, in partnership with Armenian private sector companies.
The workshop, conducted by prominent Armenian artist, Tigran Mangasaryan, enabled participants to master the techniques of creating comics. With the help of Mr Mangasaryan and female mentors, they designed a comic book about MATEMard, a female superhero, who tackles challenges through the use of mathematics.
“More girls are in school today than ever before, but they do not always have the same opportunities as boys to benefit from the education of their choice. Very often girls and women are held back by biases and social norms, preventing them to enter a field of education that they have potential in. Girls are particularly underrepresented in STEM education and eventually a career in STEM. Hence, empowering girls and women to enter the STEM field through initiatives such as this one is imperative. This is what MATEMard is all about,” shared Christine Weigand, UNICEF Representative in Armenia.
“Mathematics is a science that opens the way to other sciences. But, unfortunately, we still have public stereotypes according to which boys have more capabilities in the STEM field. The Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport is ready to promote the idea that mathematics is important, and that girls should also enter the field of mathematics,” said Deputy Minister of MESCS Zhanna Andreasyan.
As part of MATEMard, UNDP and UNICEF also initiated a photo contest inviting adolescents across Armenia to submit photos with captions that depict the use of mathematics or math-related concepts in everyday life. From 2 to 9 March, over 300 entries were submitted. The winners of the photo contest were announced on 14 March at the final event with special awards for the authors of the best photos.
UNDP and UNICEF will further work with adolescents to finalize the story of MATEMard and publish the comic book on 11 October, the International Day of the Girl Child and make it widely available for school students across the country.
MATEMard campaign is part of the Accelerator #5 initiative, aiming to empower women and young girls in Armenia to make their first steps in information technologies. The initiative is led by UNDP’s ImpactAIM Accelerator, in cooperation with UNICEF, Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center, Enterprise Incubator Foundation, Armenian-Indian Center for Excellence in ICT, and Armenia National SDG Innovation Lab. Accelerator#5 is financed by United Nations (UN) COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund (COVID-19 MPTF).