OWSD Seeks Inclusivity, Supportive Envt For Women In Science For National Devt

OWSD Seeks Inclusivity, Supportive Envt For Women In Science For National Devt

Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World South East Zone (OWSDSEZ) has advocated for Inclusivity, collaboration and a supportive environment for women in science, geared towards national development.

The coordinator, OWSDSEZ Nigeria, Prof. Uchenna Estella Odoh who stated this during the fourth Biennial scientific conference and general meeting of the group at Abia state university (ABSU) Uturu Abia state recently, urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, State Governor’s and other stakeholders to show more commitment towards empowering women scientists to become catalysts for change, innovation and progress in the country.

The Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences also called for urgent measures towards addressing the structural and cultural barriers that hinders the advancement of women in science.

Prof. Odoh identified these barriers to includes gender bias/discrimination, unequal access to opportunities for career advancement and leadership roles among others, appealing for a concerted effort from all stakeholders to create an enabling environment that values diversity, promotes Inclusivity and rewards merit.

Odoh who further thanked Abia state Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, his wife Mrs.priscilla Otti, Vice chancellors from the South-East Nigeria for their supports to group, also enjoined government at all levels to create new pathways for women in science to thrive and succeed.

In her words: “By leveraging emerging technologies, we can develop new tools, methods and approaches that not only advance scientific discovery but also promote gender equality and social inclusion”.

Contributing, the National Chairperson, OWSD Nigeria, Prof. Olayinka Nwachukwu commended South-East Zone of OWSD Nigeria for organizing their fourth Biennial scientific conference, urging participants to establish new research collaborations that would enhance their career mobility and national development.

Interacting with newsman, the co-chairman, Local Organizing Committee and the OWSD Coordinator, Umudike Branch, Prof. Mabel lfeoma Onwuka, called on women and girls in science to show resilience in their chosen career, explore innovative and technological strategies to overcome the persistent challenges/barriers that hinders women in STEM fields.

Declaring the event open, the wife of the Abia state Governor, Mrs, Priscilla Otti who decried United Nations (UN) report that only 28% of women make up the workforce in STEM, promised to support OWSD programmes in preparing young girls in the study of science.

She also expressed worries that the majority of the over 10 million out-of-school children in Nigeria are girls, hence, the reason, Abia state government allocated 20 per cent of their 2024 budget to education.

Represented by the commissioner for Women Affairs and poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Ngozi Felix, she congratulated women for their exploits in science, urging the group to develop more result-oriented strategy or template that governments and educational institutions in South-East and Nigeria can adopt to funnel the girl child towards STEM

In her keynote lecture entitled; “Women in science: Changing the narratives through innovation and technology”, Prof. Francisca Nneka Okeke disclosed that innovation and entrepreneurship drive economic growth and have the potential to address poverty in Nigeria.

Prof. Okeke attributed cultural barriers, negative attitudes towards women, lack of fundamental research, lack of confidence, poor funding among others as challenges facing women in the study of science.

The Professor of Ionospheric Geophysics, implored women scientists to network, collaborate, interact and leverage on mentorship role among others to enhance female participation in STEM

She also urged government at all levels and stakeholders to involve women in science in policy making in Nigeria.

Earlier in his remark, the chairman on the occasion, Prof. Akubugwo Emmanuel Iroha applauded the role Nigerian women in science, research and technology in nation building.

Prof. Iroha urged stakeholders to harness the outcome of the conference towards improving female participants in science and Human Capital Development in Nigeria.

In his speech, the Vice Chancellor, ABSU, Prof. Onyemachi Maxwell Ogbulu described science as the bedrock of human development and growth.

Prof. Ogbulu described the theme: “Women in science: Challenging the narratives through innovation and technology” as very appropriate and critical at this stage of the development of the country.

The university boss promised to support women in science to thrive in the institution, urging relevant agencies to take these ideas from the conference to the next level of implementation and national development.

In her vote of thanks, the Chairperson of the LOC, Prof. Ijeoma Iheukwumere thanked participants for attending the programme and the wife of the Abia state governor, Mrs. Otti for her unalloyed support to women in science.

Highpoint of the event was the presentation of award of honour to Mrs. Otti as a pillar of hope for women scientists by OWSDSEZ.

Other awardees at the event include: Rt. Hon. Moses Ike Odunwa, Prof. Onyemachi Ogbulu, Prof. Francisca Okeke, Prof. Ikechukwu Dozie, Prof. Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe, Prof. John Enaimo, Prof. Olukemi Odukoya, Prof. Jemima Ogwo, Prof. Rose Otuji, Prof. Ngozi Onyemelukwe, Prof. Nkadi Onyegegbu, Prof. Chiedozie Egesi, Prof. Olayinka Nwachukwu, Prof. Ifeoma Ijeh, Hon. Mrs. Chinyere Nwogbaga, Prof. Cordelia Ebenezer, Hon. Mrs. Esther Chidiebere Agwu among others.

Other highlights were debates, cultural dance and calisthenics performance from five different secondary schools that graced the conference, while principal officers of ABSU were present at the event.

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