2021 SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA YOUNG TALENTS AWARDS L’ORÉAL-UNESCO FOR WOMEN IN SCIENCE: 20 AFRICAN WOMEN RESEARCHERS REWARDED FOR THEIR SCIENTIFIC EXCELLENCE

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The Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO are revealing today the laureates of the 12th edition of the For Women in Science Young Talents Awards for Sub-Saharan Africa. This program rewards every year twenty young African women scientists for the excellence of their research. For the 2021 edition, the 15 PhD students and 5 postdoctoral students awardees come from 17 countries and embody, through their backgrounds and research topics, all the diversity and potential of African science for today and tomorrow.

 

AFRICAN WOMEN SCIENTISTS, KEY PLAYERS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONTINENT
The Jury of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Sub-Saharan Africa Young Talents Awards 2021, chaired by Pr Aggrey Ambali, Director of Technical Cooperation and Program Financing at the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), selected these 20 Young Talents among nearly 440 applications. For the first time since the inception of the Awards, young talents from Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and Gabon are present in the final list of awardees.

Once again, the Young Talents from this year testify to the fact that African women scientists are a critical asset for the development of the continent. Driven by their commitment, they stand out for their excellence in their respective fields: from chemistry to virology, biology, neurology, and nuclear physics. Through their research, they make an important contribution to improving the living conditions of millions of people throughout Africa and the world.

During the Young Talents Awards ceremony held in Kigali, Rwanda, on November 25th, they were awarded in front of a high-level audience from all over Africa, including representatives of the scientific world and public authorities, intellectuals, opinion leaders, and organizations promoting gender equality. Among the official guests, the Minister of Education in the Government of Rwanda, Dr. Valentine Uwamariya, the Minister Innovation in the Government of Rwanda, Paola Ingabire, His Excellency the French Ambassador in Kigali, Mr Antoine Anfre and the Director of UNESCO Regional office for Eastern Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen.

 

Photos from the event are available by clicking on this link (copyright – Fondation L’Oréal).

 

These women scientists also have in common 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.

For example, 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. Finally, the lack of role models and, sometimes, the reluctance of some research directors to employ women are additional challenges they need to overcome.

As a result, women are still largely underrepresented in the global research community: only 33% of researchers worldwide are women, and the percentage of African women scientists among worldwide researchers is 2.6%.

“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?”, declares Alexandra Palt, Executive Vice-President of the Fondation L’Oréal.

 

THE SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA YOUNG TALENTS 2021 AWARDEES

These 20 Young Talents 2021 are joining the community of 3,900 women researchers at PhD and postdoctoral levels who have been supported and honoured in over 110 countries around the world by the For Women in Science program since its inception in 1998.

Thanks to these regional awards, young women researchers receive financial support to encourage them to pursue their research projects (endowments of €10,000 for PhD students and €15,000 for postdoctoral students). They benefit from training series (management, negotiation, public speaking…) aimed at providing them with more means to break the glass ceiling, as well as press and digital support through a visibility campaign to shed light on their profiles and inspire future generations of women researchers.

“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!”, says Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences of UNESCO.

 

Discover the 2021 Sub-Saharan Africa Young Talents Awardees

 

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