International Women's Day: Energizing an Atomic World

An IAEA web-based feature series focus on advancement women have made to achieve greater equality in the nuclear workplace. (Graphic: S. Soliman, Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

The nuclear workplace is changing, with women key catalysts. More women are advancing to positions of leadership, and some are gaining jobs once thought out of reach. While women still are heavily outnumbered by men at top echelons, a better balance looks in sight.

How far women have come -- and how much more needs to be done --to achieve greater equality in the nuclear workplace is the focus of a new feature series by the IAEA. The series is being launched through the Agency's web pages in support of International Women's Day, a UN event celebrated annually on 8 March.

In words, sights, and sounds, the multimedia site showcases the stories of working women who come from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds yet share many common bonds, challenges, and hopes. They include top nuclear directors, safety and security regulators, and experts in branches of engineering, science, and technology. Other features highlight past and current contributions of women in nuclear fields, and the IAEA's initiatives to improve gender balance and equal opportunity for its multi-disciplinary staff.

The site aims to encourage young professionals, especially women, to consider how they can contribute to the IAEA's work in fields of nuclear science and technology. It is among steps that further support the Agency's commitment to staff development goals set by the UN General Assembly, which include initiatives for recruitment of women professionals.

The feature series is a joint project of the IAEA's Division of Personnel and Division of Public Information. During its development, the site received support and encouragement from men and women throughout the Agency. They included hundreds of women at IAEA headquarters, who turned out enthusiastically for the photo shooting, as well as female staff from the IAEA´s Seibersdorf and Monaco laboratories and offices in Geneva, New York and Tokyo. The site's development was especially advocated by Ms. Annick Carnino, a former Focal Point for Gender Concerns and former Director of the Division of Nuclear Installation Safety.

Women featured on the site are positive and dynamic voices of action, and their experiences illustrate both the challenges and opportunities women face in nuclear careers at national and global levels. "It is very stimulating and challenging to work in an international organization," says Ms. Anita Nilsson, the IAEA's new Focal Point for Gender Concerns and Head of the Office of Nuclear Security. "It means you are working with the entire world. When it comes to the IAEA, I would like to see more women in positions of influencing how nuclear applications are implemented worldwide."

Ms. Nilsson is among five women at the director level or higher at the IAEA. The others include Jill Cooley, Unni Vennemoe, Gabriele Voigt and Ana Maria Cetto. The present Chair of the IAEA Board of Governors is Ms. Nabeela Al-Mulla.

International Women's Day. Since the first celebration at the turn of the century, the world has commemorated International Women's Day in tribute to efforts for equal rights and opportunity, whether in classrooms, voting booths, or work places. The UN recognizes the day from the perspective that peace and social progress require the active participation and equal representation of women. In December 1977 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace. Four global United Nations women's conferences, the latest in Beijing in 1995, have helped make the demand for women's rights and participation in the political and economic process a growing reality. Five years later, the UN convened a special session of the General Assembly entitled "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century" to review progress.

Last update: 11 November 2014