Dr. Nighisty Ghezae, Director
Our new year of 2017 was happily welcomed with this wonderful message from one of our former grantees from Mali:
It is my pleasure to inform you that I am a Laureate of the Regional Award of the African Union Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Awards Programme for 2016. I am invited to attend the awards ceremony to receive my prize on 25 January 2017 at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa. Thank you IFS for contributing to my leadership in research on medicinal plants. With best regards, Professor Rokia Sanogo.
This followed earlier news from Rokia that she had been promoted to Professor, the first woman to attain that academic distinction at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Bamako in Mali.
Rokia’s two research grants from IFS enabled her and colleagues in the university’s Traditional Medicine Department to conduct pharmacological and toxicity studies in 2004 of three medicinal plants used in the traditional treatment of dysmenorrhea [women’s menstrual cramps] in Mali. The first study made it possible – five years later in 2009 – to choose Trichilia emetica as the most active plant. Phytochemical, pharmacological and toxicological studies were conducted of Trichilia emetica leaves and root extracts. The identified active ingredients were used for quality control of phytomedicines and in prospects for new anti-dysmenorrhoeal drugs. This line of research shows the power of women scientists carrying out research that directly benefits the health and lives of women.
Since 1972, IFS has supported the building of women’s and men’s capacity in science across a broad spectrum of countries, cultures, religions and languages. Our latest statistics from 2013-2015 show that the gender distribution of awarded individual research grants was approximately 35% women and 65% men, in proportion to the total number of applicants over the three years. The participants in the three pilot programs of IFS’s collaborative research approach were roughly 50-50 in distribution, with more teams coordinated by women than men, representing early career scientists from 16 countries in Africa and Southeast Asia.
IFS is committed to being as inclusive, diverse and representative as possible. Looking on a global, sociopolitical scale, and quoting from a recent University World News online article:
"What we need – now more than ever – is to embrace and protect both science and democracy. Both science and democracy depend on the same shared values of reason, transparency, openness to criticism, scepticism, respect for evidence, honesty, doubt, accountability, tolerance and interest in opposing points of view.Protecting one protects the other – good science is built on free speech, respectful deliberation and the openness of data. Good science is democratic. Similarly, a strong democracy is strengthened by science when science speaks truth to power".
Women’s irreplaceable contributions to these lofty aspirations are among the many reasons that we celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11 each year.