Egypt is relatively close to achieving gender equality in the science field, with nearly 43% of researchers being female.
This confirms that women are a major component of society, although there is a need to empower them further, according to Ghaith Fariz, Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Sciences in the Arab States: Cluster Office for Egypt and Sudan, and UNESCO Representative to Egypt.
Fariz praised the Egyptian Government’s efforts to achieve gender equality and update the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research’s National Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2030.
This aims to support human development and develop infrastructure to advance scientific research and link it to industry, development plans and social needs.
Fariz’s remarks came during a virtual seminar held by L’Oréal Egypt as part of the “L’Oréal UNESCO for Women in Science Egypt” programme, in cooperation with the UNESCO Regional Office.
The seminar took place to mark the opening for submissions for the fourth edition of the programme in Egypt, which will last from March to June 2021. The winners will be announced in November this year, and will see three Egyptian female researchers, one in the PhD stage and two in the doctoral stage, win the fellowship.
The “L’Oréal UNESCO for Women in Science” programme aims to enhance the role of women, highlight their contribution in the field of scientific research, and increase their participation in science.
It aims to ensure that women are represented fairly in all leadership positions in the field of science, as the world needs science just as science needs woman.
The programme honours three distinguished young Egyptian researchers annually to complete their doctoral and post-doctoral studies. It offers a grant of €10,000 for the post-doctoral level and €6,000 for the doctoral stage in order to enable them to develop their research.
The programme provides the winners with the opportunity to appear more widely, attract job opportunities, and enable them to enhance their self-confidence in their respective fields.
“There is a gap between research and science, on the one hand, and economic and social needs, on the other hand, but with increased government investment in new areas such as energy and green cities, as well as interest in local manufacturing, it will contribute to creating more opportunities for scientific research and innovation,” Fariz said, “This is what the L’Oréal UNESCO programme offers for women in science, with Egypt as a source of material and moral support for female researchers.”
The ‘Women in Science’ initiative has succeeded in encouraging and supporting more than 3,000 researchers from 117 countries through the local and regional programme edition, obtained by 19 researchers and other Egyptian scientists since its launch 23 years ago.
In addition, 117 female researchers received a high degree of honour for their success in the field of science, among whom are five Nobel Prize winners.
Fariz emphasised that UNESCO does not consider gender equality only as one of the basic human rights, but also as a basis for building peaceful and sustainable societies. This commitment includes working to increase the participation of women in science, technology, research and innovation.
He explained that Egypt seeks to implement strategies that work to achieve gender equality in scientific research and innovation.
“Despite the challenges that we have witnessed in the current period due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we have been keen on the continuity of the L’Oréal UNESCO programme for women in science in Egypt,” said Nahla Mokhtar Agour, Corporate Communications Manager at L’Oréal Egypt, “This confirms our firm belief in the need to empower women in the scientific research sector, which is a major component of the company’s genetic footprint.“
She said that the programme is at the top of the company’s development programmes, because it plays a vital and effective role in empowering women in the field of science, which contributes to creating added value for the societies in which we work.
Mokhtar said that the programme is distinguished by three main values, which are scientific excellence, diversity, and professional ethics.
“We launched the Egyptian version of the programme in 2018 in cooperation with the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT) in Egypt and the UNESCO Regional Office, where the number of recipients of the programme from Egypt exceeded 24 researchers, either at the global, regional or local levels,” she said.
She added that the company is working to provide all available capabilities to facilitate the participation of contestants in order to be able to present their best scientific research and new innovations that serve the community.