WMO celebrated International Women’s Day on 8 March by highlighting the outstanding work performed by female meteorologists, hydrologists, climatologists and scientists around the world. This 2016 theme was Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality. Given that women are significantly underrepresented in meteorology and related professions – especially at top levels – WMO is working towards eliminating barriers to entry and retention of women in scientific careers, attracting more girls into studying science and increasing their numbers in WMO governance and management.
“Investments made in women and girls are great multipliers of development progress,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, who recently joined the ranks of the Geneva Gender Champions with a commitment to promote a gender-sensitive culture in WMO and to strive for gender parity. “In a world of diminishing resources, we must use human capital wisely and strategically. We must take full advantage of the capacity of both women and men to advance our objectives,“ he said.
WMO continues to promote the production of gender sensitive weather and climate services. Among other activities, its field school for farmers specifically reaches out to women in agriculture, while its guidance on gender-sensitive flood management reflects the unique needs and strengths of women as well as men.
“Women are more affected by disasters although they are more risk averse than men, so we need gender-sensitive weather and climate services,” noted WMO Assistant Secretary-General Elena Manaenkova, who was recently selected by the Geneva Environment Network as an “inspirational” woman. “The strength of women as champions to help communities adapt to climate change and be more resilient to disasters is undervalued,” said Ms Manaenkova. “This needs to change.”
As part of its activities on 8 March, WMO compiled an extensive Women in Action album with dozens of photos illustrating the remarkable work done by women at National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, often performed in remote areas and in challenging conditions.