South African Women in Science webinar series starts today

The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), in partnership with the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD), Black Women in Science, and Nka’Thuto EduPropeller will host a series of webinars, starting today.

The DSI currently supports the work of these three organizations, which focus on women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and innovation (STEMI).

Every year since 2003, the DSI has held the South African Women in Science Awards (SAWiSA) to recognize the achievements of prominent women scientists and encourage the participation of women in research.

The awards are held in August as part of National Women’s Month celebrations, which take place to honor the women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 to protest the apartheid system’s pass laws.

Given the suspension of big public events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DSI has canceled SAWiSA and will instead hold webinars to celebrate women’s achievements in science and to engage in challenges limiting the participation and success of women in science and research.

The webinar series will feature previous SAWiSA award winners, who will talk about where they are now (“Ba Kae”) in their research work, and engage on specific topics related to the participation and experiences of women in science, research and innovation.

Women and girls are underrepresented in STEMI globally, and there are various problems that need to be addressed if women are to achieve equitable status and representation in research and innovation.

The first webinar will take place today from 14:30 to 16:00, and will deal with COVID-19 and its implications for women.

The pandemic has significantly changed society, deepening existing inequalities in lives and livelihoods. An unprecedented contribution is required from the science and research enterprise.

On 9 April 2020, UN Women released a policy brief on ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on Women’, covering how the pandemic has exacerbated women’s human rights in terms of health, economic security, social protection, unpaid care work, and gender-based violence, among other things and suggesting priority measures to be taken in response to the situation.

The OWSD recently conducted a survey of its members and how COVID-19 had affected their lives and careers.

The inaugural SAWiSA webinar will further explore the implications of COVID-19 on the careers, lives, and livelihoods of women, with a specific focus on South Africa.

The webinars, which will be held on Zoom and live-streamed via Facebook Live @OWSDSA, are scheduled as follows:

Date: 26 August

Time: 14:30-16:00

Topic: COVID-19 and its implications for women

Date: 23 September

Time: 14:30-16:00

Topic: Mentoring and soft skills: Supporting women’s science careers

Date: 21 October

Time: 14:30-16:00

Topic: Safeguarding women in science – Creating an environment in which women and girls can thrive

Date: 25 October

Time: 14:30-16:00

Topic: Women and innovation

Those that are interested in taking part are advised to register here: https://forms.gle/5AyUdBthV4ApYmrS6.

Connection details for the webinars will be released close to each individual session.

For more information, please contact Veronica Mohapeloa at 083 400 5750 or veronica.mohapeloa@dst.gov.za or Thabang Setlhare at 072 659 9690 or thabang.setlhare@dst.gov.za. – SAnews.gov.za

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