UNED Vitoria-Gasteiz hosts the l Science by Women Congress

The I Science by Women Congress, organized by the Women for Africa Foundation, was held on June 24 and 25 at the  N.O.W. is Africa* classroom of the UNED Vitoria-Gasteiz. This event commemorated a decade of scientific advances driven by the cooperation program and promoted the creation of professional networks that support the continued development of African women in science.

Since its inception, UNED has supported the Science by Women program, and its headquarters in Vitoria-Gasteiz was the perfect setting for this inaugural congress. In these ten years, more than 160 African women researchers have carried out six-month research stays in Spanish research centers, working in crucial areas such as health, energy, water and climate change, agriculture and food security.

The congress was attended on the first day by María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, president of the Women for Africa Foundation; Rubén González-Bengoa Oliveros, director of the UNED Vitoria-Gasteiz; Ana del Val Sancho, Provincial Councilor for Culture and Sports of Alava and Maider Etxebarria, mayor of Vitoria-Gasteiz, all of whom spoke during the institutional opening and highlighted the relevance of projects that promote women’s leadership in the world of science.

This congress was the first of a series of annual events designed to highlight the achievements of the beneficiaries of the program, promote the dissemination of their research projects and foster the exchange of knowledge and experiences among women scientists from all over the world. This first edition included a space for presentations dedicated to the research carried out by the beneficiaries of the Science by Women program who are currently in our country. It was an opportunity to exchange experiences and knowledge and to find synergies with the aim of promoting intra-African and Spanish-African cooperation.

The congress also included two round tables. The first, entitled “Cooperation and knowledge transfer: The impact of the Science by Women program”, took place on the first day and provided an opportunity to assess the achievements of the last decade and discuss the challenges and opportunities of scientific cooperation with a gender perspective. The second roundtable, “Bridging continents: collaborative research efforts to address Africa’s public health challenges”, took place on the second day and focused on public health, one of the most significant areas for women researchers in the program.

We took advantage of the presence of women scientists to hold a multidisciplinary workshop on the third day because we are convinced that multidisciplinarity in research drives innovation by bringing together diverse perspectives to address and solve challenges.


About the Science by Women/Ellas Investigan program:

The Women for Africa Foundation launched the Science by Women/Ellas Investigan program in 2014 with the aim of boosting African women’s participation in science and technology. This program facilitates women’s access to science, supports their research careers, highlights their achievements and promotes their leadership in the international scientific community. Over the course of nine editions, the program has created a network of 31 Spanish research centers that are committed to the talent of African women scientists, offering six-month research stays in key areas such as health, energy, water and climate change, agriculture and food security.


Innovative Approach and Adaptation to African Realities:

What sets the Science by Women program apart is its innovative gender approach, tailored to the diverse realities of the African continent. Recognizing the disparities in women’s access and advancement in science, the program does not set an age limit for participants and allows for a flexible research stay to balance family and professional responsibilities.

To date, more than 160 African women researchers have benefited from this initiative, becoming part of NOW is Africa, a network committed to the elimination of gender barriers and the promotion of a culture of innovation and research in Africa.

The 1st Science by Women Congress not only celebrated these achievements, but also focused on strengthening international cooperation and professional networks, providing a unique platform for women scientists to share their experiences, knowledge and advances in their respective areas of research.


*The Women for Africa Foundation has a brand new branch office in the Basque Country thanks to the provision of a spacious classroom by the National University of Distance Education (UNED) at its Vitoria center. The N.O.W is Africa classroom is a space dedicated to the theme of Women and Science.

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