The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrated on 11 February, is implemented by UNESCO and UN-Women, in collaboration institutions and civil society partners that aim to promote women and girls in science.

With this aim in mind, “Making Young Researchers’ Voices Heard for Gender Equality” (VOICES) was born. VOICES is a COST Action that aims to increase the visibility of inequalities faced by Young Researchers and Innovators (YRIs) from a gender perspective. Anne-Sophie Godfroy, Action Chair and Grant Holder Scientific Representative, explains the reasons why promoting young women researchers is important: “First because young researchers are the future of research. Without them, there is no research. Why women? A diverse and creative community will produce a diverse and creative research”, she says. VOICES wants to give specific attention to displaced scholars and scholars at risk.

VOICES is an EU-funded project involving 32 countries with the objective to create a community of gender equality practitioners composed of various stakeholders (YRIs, independent researchers, academic managers, organizations). In Anne Sophie Godfroy’s words, VOICES offers “a community to share concerns, ideas, and to promote a better inclusion of young researchers at all levels of the decision process, to make the challenges they face visible”. Besides, “at personal level, young researchers can make their research known and promote their career”.

Other VOICES aim is to promote a sustainable dialogue between YRIs and stakeholders in the research ecosystem at the systemic level (European & national policy-makers) and at the institutional level (senior researchers, academic managers). VOICES is therefore holding its annual meeting in Malta under the theme “Voicing young researchers for the future of Europe: Trends, challenges and policies”, where on 14 and 15 February young researchers will hear about the problems they face in their scientific careers and discuss possible solutions to address them in working groups.

The objectives for this year are “to publish and to disseminate our publications, to make connections with all stakeholders, especially policy makers, and to set up an observatory to better know young researchers’ challenges” notes Anne-Sophie Godfroy.

This Day is an opportunity to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. Gender equality is a global priority for us, and for the European Institutions, the support of young girls, their education, and their full ability to make their ideas heard are levers for development and peace.