Celebrating female scientists in the Middle East and North Africa

11 February 2022 | Muriel Cozier

‘Women have shown more than ever that they are necessary in every possible field of research.’

Today, 11 February 2022, is the 7th United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This year’s observance aims to recognise the role of women and girls in science as agents of change, including accelerating progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Clean Water and Sanitation. The theme for this year is ‘Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Water Unites Us.’

Marking the day, Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO hosted the first For Women in Science Young Talents Awards Ceremony for MENA. The event, which was held in Dubai, recognised 14 Arab female scientists from the MENA region. Their work covered research in the fields of life and environmental sciences, physical sciences, mathematics and computer sciences.

Commenting, Her Excellency Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology said; ‘The 14 exceptional scientists being honoured at this year’s event, the first to be held in our region, are drawn from a wide array of disciplines…This is a reflection of both the breadth of talent in the Middle East and the increasing opportunities for women here to apply it. As we move to a knowledge-based economy, a world where science and technology are increasingly front and centre, it is essential the whole of humanity is able to play a role in shaping it.’

Alexandra Palt, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer and CEO of Fondation L’Oréal added ‘Women have shown more than ever that they are necessary in every possible field of research.’

According to the most recent UNESCO Science Report, released in June 2021, although the number of women in scientific careers is increasing, reaching just over 33% of researchers worldwide, the evolution is still too slow. It was noted that in various MENA countries, while gender parity is almost reached at the PhD level, or at the start of a scientific career, there are still strong disparities to be observed depending on the country and the disciplines.

The L’Oréal-UNESCO global For Women in Science initiative began in 1998, and has recognised more than 3900 researchers and 122 Laureates from more than 110 countries and regions.

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