CAIRO: Egyptian researcher Rashika El Ridi received the UNESCO-L’Oréal Foundation award for Women in Science “for paving the way towards the development of a vaccine against the tropical parasitic disease bilharzia, which affects over 200 million people.
El Ridi received the award at a ceremony in Paris last week. The annual L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science honors five eminent women scientists, one from each region, for excellence in research.
“The ceremony was amazing, it gave an opportunity to show the world that Egypt, the land of civilization, is progressing, El Ridi told Daily News Egypt.
“This award is extremely important as it also sheds light on countries such as Egypt, the Philippines and Mexico and shows their contribution to science, she added.
The annual program aims at recognizing and promoting exceptional women throughout the world for their careers in scientific research, it also works on encouraging vocations in science among young women and supporting the creation of role models for current and future generations.
“A career in science requires energy spent on excellent work and taking excellent care of one’s children and spouse, says El Ridi. “Dedication and hard work will lead to fulfillment, a secure and respectable position, financial independence, happiness and peace, explained El Ridi.
The program wants to distinguish exceptional women in science who are helping change the world.
Each recipient is granted $100,000.
“In my eyes the UNESCO-L’Oréal for Women in Science partnership is an innovative alliance capable of making a concrete contribution to the quest of gender inequality, said UNESCO Secretary General Irina Bokova.
“This partnership promotes not only women. By highlighting the role women must play in scientific research, the program emphasizes the importance of science as a source of progress, she added.
The award’s recipients are chosen by a jury of leading scientist, it is headed by Nobel Prize winner in Medicine in 1999, Gunter Blobel, and the Founding President of the Awards, Professor Christian de Duve. She also won a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1974.
“The recognition that comes with the UNESCO- L’Oréal Award is important, especially for women in developing countries; clearly it’s much easier to do science if you have wonderful labs and tremendous support, said Blobel.
The partnership also includes the UNESCO-L’Oréal International Fellowships in which 15 fellowships are granted to young women researchers, three from each of five geo-cultural regions of UNESCO.
L’Oréal subsidiaries around the world also developed the National Fellowship Programs, with the support of the National Commissions for UNESCO.
This year, Ain Shams physics professor Hadeer El Dakhakhani was one of the fellowship’s recipients. She will study at the Institute of Physics and Chemistry of Materials in Strasbourg, France.
“Continuing my research in different countries means a lot to me. It exposes me to different cultures and points of views. I hope I will be able to give something back one day, she said.
For the UNESCO-L’Oréal Fellowship, young women submit a doctorate or post-doctorate research project to the UNESCO National Commission that they propose to pursue in the life sciences at an institution outside their country of origin. The National Commission nominates the two most deserving candidates from its country to the Selection Committee in Paris, which makes a final choice of fellowship beneficiaries.
The value of the fellowship is up to $40,000 granted to each beneficiary over a two-year period.
This year marks the 12th year of the partnership, which began in 1998 and so far has awarded over 900 women from more than 80 countries.
L’Oréal says it is committed to recognizing the importance of the role of female researchers and their innovations and, to meet this challenge, it developed the For Women in Science partnership with UNESCO.