CTBTO shines light on "Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality" this International Women's Day

In honour of International Women's Day, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) held a virtual panel discussion on 6 March to explore the ways in which the Organization helps to bridge the gender gap in technology and innovation.

This event was a collaborative effort of the Gender Focal Points of the Vienna-based international organizations in support of UN Women’s 2023 campaign, “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality”.

During the one-hour session, five female experts at different stages in their careers - with nuclear non-proliferation experience - shared their insights on how women can advance their careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The interactive panel discussion covered CTBTO’s innovative technological applications, as well as initiatives to support the next generation of women in STEM.

One of the panelists, Madi Mariama, is currently a data manager and seismic analyst. She also advocated for Comoros’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 2021. She stressed the importance of CTBTO data and technology “for both civil and scientific purposes, and for the benefit of future generations”.

She explained that the process had inspired many women to approach her for guidance on how they too could enter this field.

Another speaker, Russol Al-dulaimi, currently an associate services officer in CTBTO’s International Data Centre (IDC) Division, emphasised how the data collected by the Organization’s International Monitoring System (IMS) “could be utilised to identify natural disasters that disproportionately affect women, such as earthquakes”.

She added: “As women, we can play a vital role and take pride in our contributions”.

The panel discussion also featured the perspective of a participant in the mentoring programme piloted by the CTBTO and the CTBTO Youth Group (CYG), which is designed to develop the skills and increase the exposure of early-career women in STEM from underrepresented geographical regions.

Sri Sundari Retnoasih, who is a nuclear safeguards officer at Indonesia's National Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN), commended the joint initiative for the significant impact it had on her career: "This platform provided us with an opportunity to join a community of women in STEM. Through it, I enhanced my soft skills, built my confidence, and became more driven to pursue a career in this field”.

The panel also included insights from Tatiana Boitsova, training officer at CTBTO's On-Site Inspection (OSI) Division, who shared her experience as a programme mentor, as well as Paola Garcia Peña, station manager at the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN), who reiterated “the importance of greater female representation in the field”.

The session sparked interest across the audience of diplomats, technical experts, and academics. For instance, Helene Ruud, special advisor at NORSAR shared her perspective as a Task Leader for CTBTO’s Working Group B, which focuses on verification issues. She commented that at the last session of the Working Group, there was a decision to work towards increasing the number of female experts participating in the sessions, training activities as well as the CTBTO’s flagship Science and Technology Conference (SnT).

To mark International Women's Day, Robert Floyd, CTBTO’s Executive Secretary, released a video message expressing his gratitude to all the “women who have been crucial to developing the Organization”.

While acknowledging the strides made towards advancing women in STEM through CTBTO initiatives, Floyd stressed that “we will not rest until we achieve gender equality and the full empowerment of women in this field”.

Group photo of featured panelists and moderator La Neice Collins, senior public information officer, CTBTO

Russol Al-Dulaimi, associate services officer at CTBTO’s International Data Center (IDC) during her intervention

Collins with Tatiana Boitsova, training officer at CTBTO’s On-Site Inspection (OSI) Division and Sri Sundari Retnoasih, nuclear safeguards officer at Indonesia’s National Nuclear Energy Agency, discussing their respective experiences as mentor and mentee in the CTBTO Mentoring Programme.