Advancing Women in STEM: United Nations NGO Commission on Status of Women

By Anja Lanz and Cheryl Kristiansen

Honourary SCWIST member, Anja Lanz, a design engineer with a degree in Engineering Physics from UBC, has been actively involved in advancing women in STEM through many initiatives in her career. Anja embodies the volunteer spirit and was one of three SCWIST appointed GENC leaders in the Make DIVERSITY Possible Project that developed key policy recommendations to advance gender equality across Canada. 

SCWIST Leader Anja Lanz presenting policy recommendations at GENC Meeting.

As a member of the Steering Committee for SCWIST’s new SCALE project, Anja shares her expertise to build organizational capacity for sustainability, collaborative partnerships and advocacy reach, and she is also a key member of SCWIST’s new Policy and Impact Committee. Recently, Anja was scheduled to represent SCWIST at the Beijing +25 United Nations Meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64) in March 2020; and this global event was cancelled due to COVID-19. Always resourceful and extremely determined, Anja leveraged her networking connections to get involved in this UN project that evolved from the Beijing +25 movement.

Here is Anja’s update on recent activities involving her collaborative work with the United Nations NGO Commission on the Status of Women:

I feel very fortunate to be able to become really involved during the pandemic lockdown with a new and exciting project of the United Nations NGO Commission on the Status of Women / New York Feminist Women Movement Action Plan (FWMAP), which is a direct result of the Beijing +25 movement. The goal is to create several global teaching modules for university students around the world based on themes of women’s issues identified by the United Nations. These modules will be publicly available, and everyone will be able to freely access them once completed by a tentative deadline of Fall 2020/Winter 2021.

The themes identified by the United Nations include:

  1. Inclusive development, share prosperity, and decent work
  2. Poverty eradication, social protection and social services
  3. Freedom from violence, stigma and stereotypes
  4. Participation, accountability and gender-responsive institutions
  5. Peaceful and inclusive societies
  6. Environmental conservation, protection and rehabilitation

I felt that SCWIST goals are best aligned with the themes #1 and #4, and joined both these working groups, which include women from North America, Europe, Australia, Nigeria, and Kyrgyzstan. We have regular meetings to discuss what each of us can bring to the teaching modules, and who takes ownership to develop the various sub-sections. Since I focus on STEM, I bring a unique angle to these modules and to the working groups, as the only woman in STEM represented. The majority of material is global with an emphasis on the United Nations, UNESCO publications and CEDAW ( The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women). In addition, we align our work to address the relevant SDG’s – UN Sustainable Development Goals.

My contributions give me the unique opportunity to participate and bring forward the perspectives of women in STEM, which otherwise would not have been included in this important work. Also, I bring back to SCWIST a global perspective on how to align SCWIST’s local and national goals to this global movement and to learn best practices from other nations and organizations around the world
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Stay tuned for more updates as this exciting project develops!