Women Scientists in the Forefront against COVID-19

The South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) held a Webinar on ‘Women Scientists in the Forefront against COVID-19’ on 26 August 2020 in celebration of Women’s month. August in South Africa is historically devoted to celebrating the successes of women and is a tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women.

On the panel were: Dr Damaris Matoke-Muhia, Deputy Director, Kenya Medical Research Institute and a 2020 Aspen New Voices Fellow (KENYA); Prof Salome Maswime, Head of Global Surgery, University of Cape Town (SOUTH AFRICA); A/Prof Amy Slogrove, Associate Professor Paediatrics & Child Health, Stellenbosch University & SAYAS member (SOUTH AFRICA); Prof Cheryl Cohen, Professor & Head of the Centre for Respiratory Disease and Meningitis, National Institute for Communicable Diseases (SOUTH AFRICA); Prof Jennifer Thomson, Emeritus Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Cape Town, ASSAf member and OWSD President (SOUTH AFRICA) and Dr Sandra Lopez-Verges, Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies, Department of Research in Virology and Biotechnology, GYA member (PANAMA) with Prof Roula Inglesi-Lotz, SAYAS Co-Chair, Department of Economics, University of Pretoria acting as the Moderator.

Issues of gender and equity were front and centre as the panellists discussed the various roles they are currently playing, in efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. What was however clear was the lack of adequate numbers of female scientists in key leadership roles to afford alternative ways of problem-solving. Whilst strides have been made in giving women a voice, more can still be done to unlock the potential of women within the African continent, within the scientific community and the society in general.

Access the Podcast link here: https://youtu.be/K0SqKZp6EZs