Five promising young researchers coming from Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria were honored yesterday, November 09, 2022, during the 9th edition of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Levant Regional Young Talents Ceremony at Ecole Supérieure des Affaires (ESA) in Beirut.
The award ceremony was held under the patronage and in the presence of His Excellency Mr. Ziad Makary, Minister of Information of Lebanon, and attended by more than 200 guests amongst whom were politicians, diplomats, representatives of academic and scientific institutions, NGOs, and media.
Based on the conviction that the world needs science and science needs women, the Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO are jointly committed to the promotion of women in science to have them gain visibility, make their talents known, and to create careers’ inspiration for future generations.
Despite the increase of the number of women in scientific careers, reaching just over 33% of researchers worldwide, according to the UNESCO Science Report published in June 2021, this improvement is still very slow.
The Levant program is part of the L’Oréal-UNESCO “For Women in Science” global program that has awarded over 3,900 researchers and 122 Laureates from more than 110 countries since its launch in 1998.
Speaking at the ceremony, H.E. Mr. Ziad Makary said: “This annual award crowns the woman on the ‘throne’ of science and knowledge pushing her to offer scientific accomplishments, which constitute solutions to sanitary, environmental and economic challenges.” He also praised the dominant Lebanese impression of this year, since three exceptional Lebanese researchers have won despite the difficult situation. This proves that Lebanon, this small country geographically, is full of great capacities that can move our country forward”. He also added that this L’Oréal-UNESCO ceremony, constitutes a place of hope, creativity, and self-proving, calling on the various medias to dedicate a space for scientific information, shedding light on this initiative, and on the winners and their projects”.
While gender parity is almost reached at the PhD level or at the start of a scientific career, there are still strong disparities to be observed between the countries and the specializations. The glass ceiling remains a tangible reality, whereas the number of female researchers decreases as they access higher levels in their careers due to tremendous obstacles and barriers.
Since its inception in the Levant in 2014, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Young Talents program has highlighted the achievements of almost 100 outstanding women scientists across the region, providing financial support to help these remarkable young women accelerate their work.
In her delivered word, French Ambassador to Lebanon, Anne Grillo, stressed the importance of this event that is being held in this scientific and academic edifice, and spoke about women’s successes and their brilliance in the various scientific and humanitarian fields.
Mrs. Emily Wahab Harb, Managing Director of L’Oréal Lebanon, said: “Our changing world has never been in greater need of women and their discoveries. In a more and more complex, and uncertain world we are determined, to spare no effort in giving women the place they deserve, and encourage their participation in solving the great challenges of our time. She added: “The 5 scientists awarded today exemplify both diversity and excellence. As they overcome obstacles and push boundaries, they are fully participating in finding the solutions we need to create a sustainable future and a beautiful world. “
During her speech, Dr. Tamara El Zein, Secretary General of the National Council for Scientific Research- Lebanon, explained that: “excellence is not an exception. To the contrary, what is exceptional is the conditions under which researches in the Levant region, who despite tragedies and problems, prove one more time that the Arabic women are capable, tough, resilient and innovative, despite the toughest conditions, such as the occupation, the embargo and the degrading security and economic conditions. For a woman to be successful in Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon for example, this simply means that she is capable of achieving miracles in the tracks of life”.
From his end, Professor Mouin Hamzi, President of the Jury, stated that: “Science needs the effort of all social segments, and the mobilization of competences is now vital more than ever before. In addition, the marginalization of the woman’s role in science will immediately reduce our capacity to win the battle”.