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OWSD attended the World Science Forum 2022 in Cape Town

January 27, 2023

OWSD in partnership with the International Science Council-ISC organized a Women in Science Film Festival and a panel session on the importance of mentoring for women in academy and science

Cape Town, South Africa. Last December, a delegation of 19 OWSD members from 15 different African countries, together with OWSD Coordinator, attended the 2022 World Science Forum (WSF) in Cape Town, South Africa. The forum provided a great opportunity for OWSD to promote its mission of advancing science and technology among women in developing countries, by creating a platform for dialogue and collaboration between scientists worldwide.

The World Science Forum is a unique platform that brings together high-level policy makers, scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and civil society representatives from all over the world. It provides an opportunity to discuss global challenges related to science and its applications. The 2022 edition focused on topics such as gender equality in science, sustainable development goals, climate change mitigation strategies, and artificial intelligence ethics, among others.

The OWSD delegation was able to bring its expertise and insights into these conversations by sharing their experiences as women scientists from developing countries around the world. This was an important opportunity to highlight at this influential international platform OWSD fellows' and members' contributions to scientific research, especially in the African region.

In partnership with the International Science Council (ISC), OWSD organized a Women in Science Film Festival, which took place live on Sunday 4 December at The Labia Theatre in Cape Town and turned out to be one of the most appreciated side events of the Forum. The Festival showcased 10 short films from the OWSD Visions series, featuring the stories of women scientists living and working in developing countries and how their contributions have transformed the living conditions of their communities. Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, Assistant Director General for the Natural Sciences of UNESCO attended the screening of the OWSD films and delivered a moving 10 minute speech. Over 130 people attended and appreciated the film showcase and the following panel discussion. The films were also made available to the public throughout the Forum, in a dedicated space in the EXPO hall.

Additionally, OWSD and the ISC organized a panel session of the Forum titled “Getting Women Into Academies and Scientific Leadership: Mentoring Works”. The session, attended by over 300 people, was designed to inspire a new generation of women researchers and scientists to step up into leadership roles in their places of work and national and international scientific organisations. The panel was moderated by Tonya Blowers, OWSD Coordinator, and it was opened by three Ignite talk-style presentations by OWSD Early Career Fellows Elizabeth Bandason, Priscilla Mante and OWSD VP for Africa and VP of TWAS Olubukola Babalola. The panelists included Roseanne Diab, Emeritus professor from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Dorothy Ngila from the National Research Foundation, South Africa and Alison Meston Director of Communications at the International Science Council (ISC). The session was an inspiring and motivating experience for the participants and provided an opportunity for the panelists to discuss the challenges that women scientists face and the strategies that can be used to support them. The panel discussion was a great success as it highlighted the importance of mentoring for the development of young women scientists and the need to support them in their career paths.

The OWSD delegation also had the opportunity to participate in other sessions, panels and networking arenas, including the Global Knowledge Dialogue (GDK) organized by the International Science Council (ISC), where OWSD Vice President for Africa, Olubukola Babalola, gave a very well received Ignite Talk.

Finally, all OWSD Members, together with the OWSD President, Jennifer Thomson, the OWSD Vice President for Africa, Olubukola Babalola, OWSD Coordinator Tonya Blowers and OWSD staff member Lucia Fanicchi, met for the first in-person Regional National Chapters meeting, a half-a-day long exchange of ideas in order to: plan regional National Chapters activities strategically, clear possible doubts about administrative procedures, share best practices, work on synergies among chapters and receive a preliminary one-hour training on podcasting, in view of a future, deeper involvement of National Chapters in the OWSD science communication programme.

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