IMPACT: Five Ifakara scientists recognized for empowering women in science

Combo photo and list: The five Ifakara Health Institute lab scientists recognized by the US-based One Health Institute for empowering women on the commemoration of this year's International Day of Women and Girls in Science. GRAPHIC/PHOTOS | IFAKARA/Coms
Feb. 18, 2021
IMPACT: Five Ifakara scientists recognized for empowering women in science

US-based One Health Institute (OHI) has recognized three senior and two junior scientists serving in and supporting research work at the Ifakara Health Institute’s Bagamoyo Biosafety Laboratory, for their roles in “empowering women in science” in Africa. OHI is an Institute at the University of California, Davis.

In a statement to commemorate this year’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science shared on the OHI Official Facebook Page recently, the Institute says, as part of the OHI-led PREDICT project, the lab scientists helped to empower women in science and strengthen capacity for COVID-19 detection in East and West Africa.

“In Tanzania, detecting disease threats such as SARS-CoV-2 is in the hands of brilliant female scientists supporting the national laboratory system, scientists such as Ms. Sarah Mswata, Dr. Grace Mwangoka, Zena Emmanual, Ms. Happy Mkali, and Ms. Tunu Mwamlima.

According to the OHI, the lab scientists contribution is in line with this year's International Day of Women and Girls in Science theme, which is ‘Women Scientists at the Forefront of the Fight Against COVID-19.’

OHI notes that at both of PREDICT’s partner labs in Tanzania (IHI and Sokoine University of Agriculture - SUA), women have been core to the disease detection workforce. “In Bagamoyo, under Grace’s mentorship, a new cadre of female leaders has been empowered and placed in key positions to support national health security,” it says, adding:

“These women, some of whom started as students and in intern positions at PREDICT’s SUA lab, are the current and future workforce standing between Tanzanians and the biological forces that threaten their health and livelihoods.”

More about the One Health Institute

Founded in 2009, the One Health Institute at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, works to solve complex global health challenges at the interface of people, animals, plants and the environment.

OHI is home to the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center and many other programs and projects, including the PREDICT project, which Ifakara Heatlh Institute is part of. The Executive Director of the One Health Institute is Dr. Jonna Mazet.

The One Health, commonly abbreviated in health cycles as ‘OH,’ is an approach which recognizes that the health of domestic animals, wildlife, and people are inextricably linked to one another and the environment.

About the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to establish an annual International Day to recognize the critical role women and girls play in science and technology communities. In welcoming the efforts of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and other relevant organizations that support and promote the access of women and girls and their participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, training and research activities decided to proclaim the 11th February of each year the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

What is the origin of the Day? Well! A significant gender gap has persisted throughout the years at all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines all over the world. Even though women have made tremendous progress towards increasing their participation in higher education, they are still under-represented in these fields.

Gender equality has always been a core issue for the United Nations. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will make a crucial contribution not only to economic development of the world, but to progress across all the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well.

On 14 March 2011, the Commission on the Status of Women adopted a report at its fifty-fifth session, with agreed conclusions on access and participation of women and girls in education, training and science and technology, and for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work.

On 20 December 2013, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on science, technology and innovation for development, in which it recognized that full and equal access to and participation in science, technology and innovation for women and girls of all ages is imperative for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. #