Women’s participation in science alleviates poverty

poverty in africa
Image by Jim Richardson
“Participating in science enables women in developing countries to gain insights about how to resolve practical problems using best practice,” says Dr. Emily Ngubia, a neuroscientist at Charité hospital in Berlin.Poverty can be seen as the inability to afford human basic needs like health care, shelter, food, clean water, education and clothing. About one-fifth of the world’s population is afflicted by poverty, and statistics have shown that “women bear a disproportionate burden of world poverty”.According to the International Monetary fund, rural poverty accounts for 90 percent of poverty in sub-saharan Africa.

It has been argued that if women in developing countries like Africa are encouraged to take active part in science, the rate and statistics of poverty would be reduced.

There is a popular saying that if you educate a woman, you have educated a nation. Professor Tebello Nyokong, who won the Africa-Arab State 2009 L’Oréal-Unesco Award for Women in Science, once said that women “create a scientifically literate community since they bring up children and can encourage scientific thinking quite early in life”. Many women are responsible for raising children; their participation in science will serve as an encouragement to the children .

Recent research has shown that investment in women and their participation in science can offer economic growth. It will increase their financial independence and allow them to contribute more to the economic activities of their family and socio-economic development of the society.

According to Diana Powell, president of Goldman Sachs Foundation and
global head of Corporate Engagement, “90 percent of all revenues that women gain in their enterprises are reinvested into the society, into educating their children and into health care programs…..”

Studies have shown that in Africa, every extra year of girls education is likely to reduce infant mortality by 5 to 10 percent. Children whose mothers have received five years of primary education are 40 percent more likely to live beyond age 5. These multi-country data show educated mothers are about 50 percent more likely to immunise their children than uneducated mothers.

With a greater knowledge of science, women will be equipped with the capacity to think creatively through finding solutions to problems.

The late Dr. Waangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental and political activist, as well as the first African woman to win the Nobel peace price demonstrated this. During her time as a parliamentarian, she was able to use her scientific knowledge by starting the Green Belt Movement in Kenya to find solutions to problems of land and water in her country.

In addition, women in science create more opportunities for other women to develop themselves and participate in science. There are a lot of organisations dedicated to empower women and train them to be leaders. Such organisations include the International centre for research on women, International Conference for Women Engineers and Scientists and Women for Women International.

“Science enables people, not only women, to use information smartly,” says Dr. Ngubia. “Women in science from developing countries, holds the key to economic development and empowerment of their communities.”


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