13.06.2018 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

L’Oréal and UNESCO Convene to Award 2018 FWIS National Fellow for the Philippines

©UNESCO Office, Jakarta

L’Oréal in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization made a milestone on June 5, 2018 at Century City Mall, Makati City, Philippines as they celebrated the return of the For Women In Science (FWIS) Programme in the Philippines through the awarding of the newest FWIS National Fellow. Since the 2011 launch of the programme in the country, L’Oréal and UNESCO has already bestowed the National Fellow title to six Filipina scientists including this year’s winner – Dr. Charissa Ferrera, a university researcher specializing in marine biochemistry.

With the conviction that “the world needs science and science needs women, because women in science have the power to change the world,” the FWIS programme aims to increase the proportion of women in scientific research and promote greater gender equality in science by supporting their work and giving them the platform they deserve. Ms. Carmel Valencia, Corporate Communications Manager of L’Oréal Philippines expects that by giving recognition to these Filipina scientists, the younger generation, especially the girls, would be inspired to have a career in the field of research, science, technology, and innovation.

During the awarding ceremony, Mr. Thibault de Saint Victor, Managing Director of L’Oréal Philippines emphasized that although the Philippines is just 21 percent short of closing the gender gap in the country as reported in the WEF Global Gender Gap Report 2017, there is still a lot of challenges to overcome to ensure that the quantity and quality of Filipina scientists would continue to grow and improve. One of the challenges he mentioned was the report from the Philippines’ Commission on Higher Education (CHED) indicating that for academic year 2016-2017, women comprise only of 43% of STEM enrolments, lower than previous years.

Dr. Shahbaz Khan, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Office, Jakarta, made a presentation about the L’Oréal-UNESCO Alliance and how it contributes to the reduction of gender gap in scientific fields in all countries and at all levels of education and research. During his presentation Dr. Khan made a bold statement by pronouncing that “the world will not be able to achieve the sustainable development goals unless we empower women scientists and engineers both from the social and natural sciences.” He also cited SDG 5 (gender equality) and emphasized that access and involvement of women in scientific endeavors is a “fundamental human right and a necessary foundation for the creation of sustainable and peaceful societies.”  Dr. Khan hopes that the Philippine Government would continue to empower women and invest more in science so that the country can soon become an exporter of knowledge and technology.

To intensify their commitments in promoting women involvement in research and STI, the attendees lead by past FWIS National Fellows and officials from L’Oréal Philippines, UNESCO Office, Jakarta, National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and representatives from various academic and scientific institutions signed a six-point manifesto that embrace the following commitments:

  1. Encourage girls to explore scientific career paths;
  2. Break down the barriers that present women scientists from pursuing long-term careers in research;
  3. Prioritize women’s access to senior positions and leadership positions in the sciences;
  4. Celebrate with the general public the contribution that women scientists make to scientific progress and society;
  5. Ensure gender equality through participation and leadership in symposiums and scientific commissions such as conferences, committees and board meetings; and,
  6. Promote mentoring and networking for young scientists to enable them to plan and develop careers that meet their expectations.

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