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Rwanda: UNESCO to Award Exceptional PhD Holders In Kigali

by Williams Buningwire
5:03 pm

The Ministry of Education, the Jury of the L’Oréal Foundation, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will award ‘exceptional’ fifteen female scientist PhD students and five postdoctoral students in Sub-Saharan Africa.

L’Oréal is a French company headquartered in Clichy city. It targets promoting female scientists in the world, but most especially in Africa.

A total of twenty PhD holders from seventeen countries will be awarded for their outstanding research, diversity in science and as ‘potential’ African scientists for ‘today and tomorrow’. The event to award these female scientists is scheduled at Kigali Convention Center (KCC) on November 24.

They were selected among other 440 female science students pursuing PhD and postal graduate studies by the Jury of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Sub-Saharan Africa Young Talents Awards 2021, chaired by Aggrey Ambali, Director of Technical Cooperation and Program Financing at the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD).

For the first time since the inception of the Awards in 1998, young talents from Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and Gabon will be present in the final list of awardees, according to L’Oréal foundation.

“Today more than ever, the world needs science, and science needs women, and this is especially true for Sub-Saharan Africa. Why should we deprive ourselves of such talents, when science and innovation are indispensable growth levers for the continent,” Alexandra Palt, Executive Vice-President of the Fondation L’Oréal said in the statement released yesterday.

The female scientists to be awarded are in the various fields including chemistry, virology, biology, neurology, and nuclear physics.

They make an important contribution to improving the living conditions of millions of people throughout Africa and the world, according to UNESCO.

L’Oréal says these female scientists share an exemplary determination that the obstacles they encounter cannot affect. Some of these difficulties are inherent in the world of scientific research in sub-Saharan Africa.

Giving example, a Jury of the L’Oréal-UNESCO said that the lack of financial and technical resources to carry out research, while other difficulties are specific to the fact of being a woman, social expectations that make it particularly difficult to find a balance between work and the role of a wife or mother.

Other difficulties mentioned include lack of role models and, sometimes, the reluctance of some research directors to employ women are additional challenges they need to overcome.

According to UNESCO, women are still largely underrepresented in the global research community. UNESCO figures indicate that 33% of researchers worldwide are women, and the percentage of African women scientists among them is 2.6%.

They will receive financial support to encourage them to conduct research projects. Each PhD student will receive endowments of €10,000 and €15,000 for postdoctoral students.

“We need role models for women and girl scientists, and we need to put the spotlight on the critically important scientific work done by female researchers around the world. Our aim is to change the discriminatory trends they are facing, urgently and together,” Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences of UNESCO said in the statement received by KT Press.

Since 1998, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program has worked to empower more women scientists to overcome barriers to progression and participate in solving the great challenges.

It has supported more than 3,900 women researchers from over 110 countries, rewarding scientific excellence and inspiring younger generations of women to pursue science as a career.

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