In its ninth year, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Middle East Regional Young Talents Program, in partnership with Khalifa University of Science and Technology, has honored five visionary women from the GCC to recognize, and support furthering their groundbreaking research in the fields of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science.
The regional program is part of the L’Oréal-UNESCO’s global For Women in Science initiative that has already recognized over 3,900 phenomenal researchers and more than 100 Laureates from more than 110 countries and regions since its inception in 1998.
This year, grants were awarded to Post-doctorate Researchers Dr. Maha Zakariya Yahya Al-Riyami (Oman), Dr. Raefa Abou Khouzam (UAE) and Dr. Fatiha M. Benslimane (Qatar), who received EUR 20,000 each; and PhD students Hessa Ebrahim Ali Alfalahi (UAE) and Ayesha Abdulla Alkhoori (UAE), who were awarded EUR 8,000 each in their category. These women are playing a pivotal role in addressing critical global issues and paving the way forward for more young women to enter STEM fields. Since its inception in the region, the program has recognized 45 researchers from the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
The program continues to receive the endorsement for the fourth year in a row of H.E. Sarah Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, who said: “Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO’s initiative to recognize young women scientists continues to create an enabling environment for diversity in STEM. Over the past few years, we have seen a healthy increase in the representation of women in these fields, we know that there is a lot more work that needs to be done to foster career progression across organizations. Creating opportunities such as this is the essential first step to encouraging more young women researchers to push ahead and make a mark in the science and technology fields.”
Her Excellency added: “The Arab world has its share of pioneering women scientists, and their work has played a key role in addressing issues that impact global society. We can see examples of driving forward with diversity in the UAE, providing women with access to funding, career progression and equal-pay.”
The latest UNESCO Science Report recognizes the effort of many countries in the Arab world for achieving gender parity at the university level. The gap, however, widens as women enter the workplace with several barriers that set them back in their careers. Women researchers were found to have shorter, less well-paid positions, and were given smaller grants than their male counterparts.
The driving ethos behind the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Program is ‘The world needs science and science needs women’. The program was created to break down barriers to progress for women in STEM and provide them with the tools to succeed.