The Official signing of the agreement between the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) took place in a virtual signing ceremony on 28 June 2021. The event represented the launch of the EMPOWER Fellowship Programme to promote, support, and share success stories of women scientists from the Global South.
Dr. Lawrence Banks, ICGEB Director-General at ICGEB HQ in Trieste, Italy, and Mr. Adel Abdellatif, Director ai. at UNOSSC, New York, USA, signed the agreement that represents the burgeoning, mutually beneficial activities between the two organisations, to provide capacity building, networking, and exchange platforms.
Dr. Banks expressed his delight at the wonderful collaboration developed with the UNOSSC over the course of the last year, leading to “a range of mutually beneficial activities including the promotion of good practice in South-South Cooperation”. UNOSSC Director ai., Mr. Adel Abdellatif stated: “We believe it is important to promote, support and share the success stories of young women champions from the Global South to highlight their contributions in Science & Technology.”
Chaired by Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang, UNOSSC, Ms. Marianna Maculan, ICGEB Chief, External Relations, and Ms. Ragini Malik, UNOSSC Programme Analyst, presented the details of the fellowships, to be provided to early-career women researchers from the Global South, in particular from the LDCs, to perform their research at the ICGEB Components in Cape Town, South Africa or New Delhi, India, or at any other recognised institution based in an ICGEB Member State.
At the outset, 5 fellowships to support women scientists will be awarded. The Governments of India, Italy, and South Africa are also all at advanced stages of discussion to promote parallel initiatives.
Besides scientific training in the field of the life sciences, the fellows will also have access to training in complementary soft skills, such as Intellectual Property, grant application writing, and scientific communication.
The program will create a pool of female scientists collaborating on biotechnology and will foster gender-balanced STI communities in the Global South. These women scientists will serve as champions in their own home institutions and in their national scientific communities and will nurture a community of Southern young women researchers, to fill the gap for role models, while strengthening scientific research for South-South cooperation.