29 September 2020: With lockdowns as a COVID-19 response, the internet has emerged as a major COVID-19 knowledge resource. There are a lot of COVID-19 knowledge production and dissemination activities ongoing globally. However, the flow of this knowledge is mostly North-South and when it is stemming from the South, it usually comes from Asian countries. UNESCO has previously noted that global knowledge flows are greatly imbalanced to the detriment of global South nations. Yet Africa and Africans have been producing knowledge, and African Governments, private sector and academia are working on different initiatives to help flatten the COVID-19 curve.
Equally, indigenous knowledge developed by societies with long histories of interaction with their natural surroundings especially plants have informed decision-making about fundamental aspects of day-to-day life, including community health. This is emerging as an important knowledge resource. Further, countries that have experience in dealing with infectious diseases such as Ebola have fared relatively well in combating COVID-19. During the Ebola epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2015, it was a compass of epidemiological knowledge drawn from indigenous knowledge among ordinary people that played an important part in containing the epidemic in 2015 . The same indigenous knowledge systems are being adopted in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, in partnership with the African Union Commission, is organizing a series of webinars highlighting the contributions African women in Science, Technology, Engineering e Mathematics (STEM) have made to the response to the current COVID-19 crisis. Seeking to contribute to the body of knowledge on the response to the pandemic in Africa, the first session will bring together a group of African female medical practitioners, ICT practitioners, scientists, and other African women involved in indigenous COVID-19 knowledge production and dissemination. The discussion will focus on:
- The roles that women in STEM in Africa have played in the pandemic – innovations, new industries, contributions to research etc. – and how we can amplify these stories;
- Home-grown solutions with women at the forefront, and their experiences;
- Further support that is needed and can be offered in different partnerships;
- A communication strategy to facilitate knowledge and experience exchange among African Women in STEM during and post-COVID-19.
Session 1: Experiences and contributions of African women in STEM during the Pandemic
Moderator: Mrs. Estherine Fotabong, Director, Programme Innovation and Development AUDA-NEPAD
1- Opening Remarks:
Mr. Adel Abdellatif, Director a.i., United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation
2- Keynote Speech
H.E. Ambassador Quartey Thomas Kwesi, Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission
3- Presentations by African Women in STEM
- Ms. Sibongile Mongadi
- Dr. Ngulala Sandrine Mubenga, Ph.D.
- Dr. Shikoh Gitau
- Dr. Linda Mobula
- Dr. Linda Ngwi Bello
- Dr. Augustina Sylverken
4- Special Contributions
- UN Women Representative to the African Union
- Senior Representative, Intel Corporation
5- Remarks and comments by the Panelists
- Hon. Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services, South Africa.
- H.E. Prof. Sarah Agbor, Commissioner, Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology, African Union Commission.
- Mr. Adel Abdellatif, Director a.i., UNOSSC
6- Q&A and comments from members
7- Response and closing remarks from panel members
8- Vote of thanks
Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang- Deputy Director for Programme and Operations, UNOSSC