The share of female scholarship holders in development-related postgraduate courses is on the rise. Gabriele von Fircks, Department Head at the DAAD, explains why the DAAD is placing increased emphasis on supporting women.
Why has the number of women enrolled in development-related postgraduate courses steadily increased over the past years?
Promoting women and achieving fair gender distribution are important for the DAAD – that is why make it a point to encourage women to apply to the programme. We preferentially select female applicants if all other qualifications are equal, and our approach has paid off. Nearly 50 per cent of all scholarship holders are now women. The percentage of women in the environmental sciences, social sciences and law is even higher; their numbers are also on the rise – now at 30% – in traditionally male-dominated field such as engineering. One reason for these positive developments is the overall increase in educational opportunity for girls in some developing and threshold countries.
Why is promoting women so important for the DAAD?
Women are still at a disadvantage – not only in developing countries but in the industrialised world as well. We want to do our part in increasing the number of women in leadership positions so that women’s issues are more fully represented in society. Gender equality and the empowerment of women is not only one of the Millennium Development Goals – it is also one of the driving principles behind Germany’s development policy.
How do you see this developing in the future?
I am confident that we’ll be able to increase the number of women in our programme in the years to come. We hope, of course, that more and more of our female alumni rise to leadership positions – we are on the right track.