What does the Future hold for the Mediterranean?
Turin (Italy) 29-31 janvier 1999
International Mediterranean Women's Forum
Third International Congress
At the national level
The topic of this Third Congress was chosen taking into
account on the one hand the increasing role played by science in womens and men's
life, on the other the new political and ethical problems it necessarily implicates.
Another goal of the Congress was to prepare documents in view of the UNESCO/ICSU World
Conference on Science to be held in Budapest in June 1999, where the Forum will represent
the basin of the Mediterranean.
Five years after the United Nations World Conference on
Women (Beijing 1995), when the States agreed on a Platform for Action to improve women's
position at power levels in the scientific and technological fields, we have found out
that in all the countries of the Mediterranean the situation is still alarming, despite
the parallel growth in the number of women who have embarked on technical and scientific
Once acquainted with the results of the regional
conferences held in Latin America (Bariloche in Argentina, October 1998) and in Europe
(Bled in Slovenia, November 1998), and in accordance with the tradition of the
International Mediterranean Womens Forum meetings, at the end of the work we adopted
the present Declaration, known as the Turin Declaration. The signatories and the
International Mediterranean Womens ForumUNESCO Network commit themselves to
accomplishing directly or through an awareness-building campaign involving decision
makers a number of actions aimed at strengthening these positions.
The most serious problems relevant to the issue
women, science and biotechnology in the Mediterranean nations (causing an
imbalance among the countries of this area) are: the difference between men and women in
the scientific and technological field; and the disparity between scientific and
technological levels existing in this part of the world.
Poverty, i.e. the lack of a scientific culture, makes the
efforts of the countries willing to develop scientific and technological research
illusive, and looms heavily over the future of these nations. At the same time, the lack
of an equal educative reality, which is glaring in some countries, is present almost
everywhere in the Mediterranean area when it comes to scientific teaching. Also, for this
kind of education, teachers too often reproduce the stereotypes of differences between
Science obeys an ideological, economic and political
logic that influences its choices too often guided by the demands of economic
efficiency today and all this leads, for example, to the exclusion of certain
molecules or diseases from the field of research, although they still affect whole
peoples. Besides, owing to the power to intervene and transform human genetic make-up, new
ethical problems arise.
To provide an answer to these problems, all Mediterranean
women assert that science and technology should develop in a context of freedom and
democracy to guarantee the access to knowledge. It is therefore impelling for women of the
Mediterranean, aware of this delicate matter, to indicate the ethical criteria to be
fulfilled for the creation of concrete programmes on specific themes, valid for all
cultures. It is essential for women to partake in the orientation of research by occupying
It is thus urgent to awaken civil society to the effects of
science and technology on womens and men's everyday lives and to the need for a
better understanding of scientific matters. Issues concerning the future of science and
technology should be considered not only within the scientific community, but also within
a broader framework, as they involve all citizens, women and men alike.
Concerning the inequality between women and
men, the International Mediterranean Womens Forum notes that the exclusion of women
is the same also in the economic, social and political spheres. Besides, science
neutrality which is supposed to recognize talent without taking into account sex
is deeply undermined by many concrete examples of women scientists whose merits
have not been rewarded or rewarded very late.
The signatories of the
Turn Declaration commit themselves to:
the Mediterranean level
Encouraging the diffusion of knowledge and the exchange
of people among the different countries, supporting especially young women researchers;
developing contacts between scientific institutions (university, research centres, etc...)
of the different countries of the Mediterranean basin with a view to developing common
projects for training and research.
Making sure that women take full advantage of scientific
and technological agreements among countries of the Mediterranean.
Supporting projects aimed at cooperation and exchange of
resources in order to solve common or specific problems found in the Mediterranean area.
Creating a local scientific body known as Women and
Sciences of the Mediterranean capable of updating statistics on the positions of
women and the roles women play in different disciplines, promoting the diffusion of
information on womens scientific activities and defining a list of skills and
Creating a group of women scientists inspired by the
Italian Donne e Scienza (Women and Science), coordinated by the International
Mediterranean Womens Forum in order to realize cooperation between the Northern and
Southern Mediterranean on scientific projects and activities.
Monitoring women scientists' groups already organized
into associations and promoting the creation of other groups where these are lacking.
Monitoring existing committees on bioethics to gain
further information, put together and assess documents, and promote participation in these
committees by women scientists; making possible the creation of national committees on
bioethics in countries where these still don't exist.
Developing on-going distance training.
Setting up international courses, under the
responsibility of the International Mediterranean Womens Forum, with the help of the
CIF/OIL in Turin and UVO/ROSTE in Venice, to train women in the field of science
popularization and scientific applications. These courses will be devoted to training
women who run associations and small artisanal or rural companies. The courses
will provide tools for obtaining better information about women and the real situation
with regard to the use of science and biotechnologies. The objective will be to make
possible public debates on science, its purpose and consequences in different countries.
Creating, from 1999 onwards, annual grants for two young
women (from 1826 years-old), one from North and the other from South of the
Mediterranean, wishing to undertake scientific studies. These grants are in memory of
Francesca Maria Buzzetti and are at the disposal of the International Mediterranean
Womens Forum thanks to the UNESCO Centre in Turin.
Promoting actions addressed especially to young women and
their families to fight all prejudices that block the access of a greater number of women
to scientific careers.
Implementing actions to support girls' orientation toward
the full spectrum of careers,
especially training teachers to motivate thanks to
a new pedagogy the younger generation, without any discrimination, and to develop
its scientific curiosity;
creating programmes using tools that are adapted to the
educational needs of the various countries.
Multiplying actions aimed at encouraging the
participation of women in defining policies and choosing priorities in education,
scientific research and budget management. These actions will be promoted from within,
with the help of existing bodies and institutions, and through non-governmental