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It’s a stone cold hard fact that women in science are grossly underrepresented the world over, but especially in Africa. This situation has been made even more challenging by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, a recent study by the British Medical Journal has revealed that among more than 2,000 articles published since the beginning of the pandemic, only 3% have been produced by African scientists.  The BMJ reported, “Africans have authored just 3% of COVID-19 research papers, despite the fact that 17% of the world’s population lives in Africa.”

Almost two thirds (65%) of articles by Africans on COVID-19 were from just three countries: South Africa, Egypt, and Nigeria. 

African women in science

Alexandra Palt, featured on the far left. Photo credit: © 6C Conseil/Freddy Kanani

Meet 20 of Africa’s brilliant young women in science for 2021

Alexandra Palt, CEO of Fondation L’Oréal  explained how impressed the jury are with the quality of the young scientists. She explained, “these laureates show that African continent has at its disposal to find solutions to Africa’s great challenges.”

SOUTHERN AFRICA

African Women in Science Motswedi Anderson

Modswedi Anderson

Motswedi Anderson – Botswana, Post-doctorate Life and Environmental Sciences, Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership.

Lenye Dlamini –  Swaziland,  PhD  student, Life and Environmental Sciences, Structural biology research unit, University of Cape Town.

Theresa Taona Mazarire – Zimbabwe, PhD Formal Sciences, Vector Control Reference Laboratory Wits research Institute for malaria National Institute for Communicable Diseases South Africa.

“Convinced that science is the key to sustainable development and economic growth, Theresa advocates for women scientists to help lead the transformation of global health systems.”

Hendrina Shipanga – Namibia, PhD  student, Life and Environmental Sciences, Cancer Research Lab, University of Cape Town.

CENTRAL AFRICA

Jacky Sorrel Bouanga Boudiombo

Jacky Sorrel Bouanga Boudiombo

Jacky Sorrel Bouanga Boudiombo – Gabon Post Doctorate, Physical Sciences. Supramolecular chemistry (HaynesGroup) Bernai Institute, University of Stellenbosch/University of Limerick.

Sephora Mianda Mutombo – Democratic Republic of the Congo, PhD student, Physical Sciences Biodiversity/Chemistry department, University of Pretoria.

Ruth Nana Njantang – Cameroon, PhD student, Biological Sciences, Laboratory of Animal Biology and Physiology University of Douala (Cameroon).

Vinie Kouamou – Cameroon, PhD student Life and Environmental Sciences, Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory, University of Zimbabwe.

“For Vinie, women stand to lead the way in finding solutions, alleviating poverty and enabling African girls and women to thrive.”

Vinie KouamouEAST AFRICA

Annette Uwineza – Rwanda, Post-doctorate, Life and Environmental Sciences, Centre of Human Genetics, University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK).

Bibi Sharmeen Jugreet – Mauritius, PhD student Biopharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Mauritius.

Agil Katumanyane – Uganda, PhD student Life and Environmental Sciences. Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology, Institute (FABi), University of Pretoria.

“Agil grees that sparking an interest in science for young girls should be encouraged as early as possible, in primary school.”

Hyam Omar Abbass Ali – Sudan PhD Chemistry, Laboratory of medicinal chemistry University of Cape Town (South Africa).

Mary Murthi

Mary Murthi

Mary Murithi – Kenya, PhD student Life and Environmental Sciences. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Laboratory, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

“Mary believes that women should be given more opportunities to contribute to creating a better future for all.”

WEST AFRICA

Menonli Adjobimey Vissoh – Benin, PhD student, medicine/Masters degree  epidemiology. Chronic and Neurological Diseases Epidemiological Laboratory, University of Aborney-Calavi.

Sandra Jusu

Sandra Jusu

Sandra Jusu – Sierra Leone Post Doctorate, Material Science and Engineering, Sobayela Laboratory, African University of Science and Technology Abuja.

Esther Laurelle M. Deguenon – Benin  Post Doctorate, Life Sciences. Research unit in applied Microbioliogy and Pharmacology and Pharmacology of natural substances, University of Aborney-Calavi.

Esther dreams of an Africa and a world where vulnerable people and children no longer die from infectious diseases. Where multi-drug resistance is managed effectively and access to health is a reality for all.

Abena Dufie Wiredu Bremang – Ghana. PhD student, Engineering, Sciences and Technology. Regional Water and Environmental Sanitation Centre, Kumasi, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

Ndeye Maty Ndiaye – Senegal Lois Okereke – Nigeria

Motunrayo COKER, Nigeria, Neuroscience and Ageing Research Unit, IAMRAT, College of Medicine,University of Ibadan.

Women in Science

Motunrayo Coker

“Motunrayo advocates for an environment that encourages women to discover and fulfil their full potential, thanks to fellowships, scholarships, grants, and awards.”

Closing words

Health policy is not only informed by original research; sensible, contextually appropriate guidelines, opinions and commentary are also essential to improving the functioning of healthcare systems.

African Women In Science - Alexandra Palt

Graphic credit: Today’s Women: https://twmagazine.net/

Through their research, these young scientists also  make an important contribution to improving the living conditions of millions of people throughout Africa and the world.

The For Women in Science programme demonstrates that young African scientists are in an excellent position to contribute far much more than current resources, inadequate funding, focus and support offer.  If we are to truly see transformation in healthcare in Africa and indeed the world, we need to support more African women in science.

Main photo credit: www.FondationLoreal.com

The British Medical Journal: Africans have authored just 3% of COVID-19 research:  https://www.bmj.com/company/newsroom/africans-have-authored-just-3-of-covid-19-research/

UNESCO Science Report: The race against time for smarter development; executive summary
Corporate author:
UNESCO [61448]

https://www.unesco.org/reports/science/2021/en/race4smarter-development

World Economic Forum Gender Equality Report:  https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2017.pdf

 

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Gisèle Wertheim Aymes

Gisèle is the owner of the Longevity brand and a self-proclaimed health hedonist. When she is not working, you'll find in her in a yoga class or active in the great outdoors. Gisèle is passionate about health and sharing information. You can follow her @giselewaymes on Twitter and Instagram or read her Linked-In profile for full bio details.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.