Tuesday, 20 December 2016

MARS award winners appointed as Merck Ambassadors of Empowering Women and Girls in STEM

Following the success of Merck Cancer Access Program to empower women in oncology field where they are underrepresented, comes another successful initiative for MERCK to empower African women in research to offer better health care to women.

After receiving his ‘African Alliances HE for SHE’ award for women empowerment, Prof Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp has successfully achieved another commitment to empower women in research in an effort to bridging the gap in gender inequality in STEM Africa.

UNESCO and Merck celebrate outstanding African Women Researchers as a historical first. Kenya, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Uganda, Ethiopia ranked in the top five places at the ‘Merck Africa Women Research Award on women health in Africa’.

Merck announced five winners from Kenya, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Uganda and Ethiopia under the category of ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’ and four winners from Botswana, Cameroon, Gambia and Zimbabwe for ‘Best Young African Researchers Award’ during the recently held 2nd UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where the first ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’ was being launched.

Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of Executive Board and Family Board of E. Merck KG congratulated the winners: “Merck will work together with UNESCO to empower young researchers which raises the level of scientific research in Africa and encourages in particular young women researchers to pursue their dreams, work for improving access to health solutions and make a difference in the continent. Moreover, I am very pleased to offer my support to motivate female researchers & healthcare providers and recognize their excellent contribution to fields where they are underrepresented”.

Merck will provide the winners with training and mentorship opportunity to advance their capacity and helps bring them to the international standard. The winner of MARS Research awards will be appointed as Merck Ambassadors of Empowering Women and Girls in STEM in their own countries through several future initiatives will be announced in 2017” explained Rasha Kelej Chief Social Officer, Merck.

The recipients of the awards who are not only PhD students and young investigators based at African research institutes and universities were selected based on the abstracts they submitted. These impressive abstracts were related to Infectious Diseases with the aim to improve Women Health, the focus of UNESCO-MARS 2016.

In her introductory remarks, Dr Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare highlighted: “This is the second UNESCO-MARS we are holding after the successful one held in Geneva, Switzerland in 2015. Merck is committed to empowering women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) which will consequently contribute to improving the quality of research and science in Africa.”

“Merck’s support for research and healthcare especially in the field of oncology where women are currently under-represented will help bridge the gender gap in STEM in Africa.  Merck have provided earlier this year Oncology fellowship program to African women doctors from Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Tanzania. Not only that we have also supported women cancer survivors through access to information, awareness about prevention and early detection, health and economic empowerment through Merck more than a a patient initiative which focuses mainly on Cancer in women and its social misperception and stigma” Rasha Kelej added.

The ‘Best African Women Researchers Awards’ with the aim of promoting women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) went to five women researchers from across Africa, who were recognized for the outstanding quality of their research.

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