ARAB NETWORK FOR WOMEN IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (ANWST)

An Aide Memoire on the Establishment of an:

ARAB NETWORK FOR WOMEN IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (ANWST)

November 2004

1. BACKGROUND

The empowerment of women worldwide entails a qualitative and quantitative improvement in educational and training opportunities offered. It also involves promoting a higher profile for women in the socio-economic development of their societies. The status of women scientists in different parts of the world was reviewed, analyzed, and debated at length at the World Conference on Science (WSC), held in Budapest, Hungry in June 1999. The Conference stressed that discrimination based on gender prevents half the population from contributing towards sustainable development activities and thus impairs advancement and progress. A pressing need was, therefore, expressed to integrate women in all aspects of the development process. Resolutions adapted to this effect stressed on the need for substantive efforts and strong commitments to make science and technology a shared asset to benefit all people with no discrimination. The resolutions also call for "the establishment of international networks of women scientists".

As a follow up to the WSC and its resolutions to establish women science networks, the UNESCO Cairo Office organized a Regional Preparatory Meeting in Cairo, Egypt, in September 2003 to explore and debate the principle of creating a network of professional Arab women in the field of science and technology in the Arab region. The participants of the Meeting unanimously supported the initiative to the establish an Arab Network for Women in Science and Technology (ANWST) to encompass, acknowledge, and disseminate inventions and achievements undertaken by Arab Women in the fields of Science and Technology and allow them to bring a new perspective to research and development in their own countries.

2. OBJECTIVES

Development Objective:

The overall objective of ANWST is advocating a right-to-development approach for empowerment and advancement of Arab women in science, technology, and innovation, as well as mainstreaming a gender perspective into decision making processes, development policies, programmes and projects as a tool for achieving gender equality and sustainable development. The Network activities are expected to contribute towards building an integrated scientific community capable of meeting the challenges of sustainable development in the Arab region in line with the expected scientific advancement of the 21 first century by empowering women and strengthening their effective participation and contribution in science, technology, and innovation.

Immediate Objectives:

The immediate objectives of ANWST include the promotion of effective participation of Arab women in the decision making process dealing with policy formulation and implementation of action oriented strategies related to science, technology and innovation, as well as building bridges for cooperation and collaboration among Arab women. They also include the enhancement of awareness of the Arab and international communities regarding the contributions and achievements of Arab women in science and technology. ANWST aims to facilitate access of young and promising Arab women to educational and training opportunities in science and technology, and to encourage and recognize the scientific innovation of Arab women. The Network can serve as a catalyst for promoting cooperation among the various institutions, organizations and entities working in the area of gender mainstreaming and women empowerment in science, technology and innovation.

3. EXPECTED ACHIEVEMENTS

In order for ANWST to achieve its objectives, its planned activities will focus on: capacity building of women scientists through training courses, workshops, seminars, round tables, fellowships, and research and studies in the science, technology, and innovation fields. They will also explore and implement effective channels for communication and sharing of information on research and technology development and experiences among Arab women scientists as well as with their counterparts worldwide in order to enhance the state of knowledge of Arab women scientists in the science and technology and innovation fields of relevance to the social, economic and environmental conditions characteristic of the Arab Region.

4. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

While the exact structure of ANWST will be presented, debated and ratified during the Network official launching meeting in February 2005 in Bahrain, the following structure is proposed:

I) Regional Coordinating Focal Point (Secretariat);

ii) Individual Members and Member Institutions (General Body); and

iii) Executive Board.

The Regional Coordinating Focal Point is intended to provide an initiating and coordinating stimulus within the Network and to provide support for its programs. The Regional Focal Point, responsible for planning, programming, coordinating and implementing the Network activities, should ideally be affiliated with an existing, recognized S&T management and policy training and research center that is closely associated with S&T development in the Arab context.

The ANWST will be open to individuals and institutions (private and public sectors) from all countries in the Arab region and around the world that will constitute the General Body of the Network. The Member Institutions could consist of S&T organizations, industrial enterprises, specialist groups as well as individual scholars and entrepreneurs from the business community.

To approve plans and review operations of the Network and to guide its further development, an Executive Board will be established. It is to consist of six to eight members, elected in their own personal capacity by the General Body and the Founding Partners for a term of three years, and chaired by the Director of the UNESCO Cairo Office. It should meet at least once a year to overview and to provide general policy direction to the Network activities.

ANWST is expected to lead to a fostered participation of women, especially young ones, in the field of science and technology and enhanced visibility of Arab women scientists in scientific societies and professional meetings. The Network also will contribute towards strengthening collaboration and improved communication among women scientists in the Arab region, on one hand, and their peers around the world, on the other.

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