In a move to promote gender equity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM), the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, Prof. Ajay Kumar Sood, officially launched the "Science for Women: A Technology and Innovation (SWATI)" Portal. Timed to coincide with the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the inauguration took place at the Indian National Science Academy (INSA), New Delhi.
The SWATI Portal, a brainchild of the Inter-Academy Panel (IAP) on Women in STEMM, is set to be a game-changer. It is a comprehensive, interactive database—the first of its kind in India—aimed at representing and empowering Indian women and girls in the STEMM fields. During the launch, Prof. Sood emphasised the importance of the SWATI Portal's database in shaping policies to tackle gender disparities.
Developed, hosted, and maintained by the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR), New Delhi, under the leadership of Dr. Subhra Chakraborty, the SWATI Portal aims to include data on all women scientists in India. Dr Chakraborty highlighted the portal's interactive nature, calling it potentially the world's first of its kind.
In her address, Dr Chakraborty underscored the underrepresentation of women across sectors, citing figures from the 2021 UN Report. The SWATI Portal is envisioned as a dynamic, growing platform with an ongoing effort to include data on women scientists from all corners of the country.
Prof. Quarraisha Abdool Karim, President of TWAS, delivered a keynote address, reminding attendees that even in the 21st century, gender parity remains a challenge in all sectors. She emphasised the role of education as a great equaliser and stressed the need to make it accessible to women and girls across all fields.
The main goals of the portal are to increase the participation of Indian women in the field of science and to promote equality, diversity, and inclusivity in India. The portal aims to achieve these objectives by covering different sections, including icons, faculty, research fellows, students, entrepreneurs, and professionals in alternate careers. To date, over 3000 'WiS Data Cards' have already been incorporated into the portal, which will enable long-term research on these issues.
The launch event featured distinguished scientists of national and international repute, including Prof. CNR Rao, Prof. P N Tandon, and the Presidents of the three Science Academies. Eminent speakers from across the country shared their expertise, promising a united effort to encourage young women scientists and startups.
The SWATI Portal is a significant initiative towards achieving gender equality in STEMM fields in India. This platform provides various opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and empowerment of women. As India moves forward towards becoming 'Atmanirbhar Bharat,' the SWATI Portal plays a crucial role in strengthening self-reliance through knowledge dissemination, innovation, and inclusivity.