#AfricanWomenInScience: a priority for Afrique One-ASPIRE

11 February 2017

At the Afrique One-ASPIRE kick-off meeting (19th Sept 2016, Kampala, Uganda), Prof. Bassirou Bonfoh, director of the consortium, stated in the presence of the consortium members and the AESA team, including director Tom Kariuki: ‘ASPIRE believes that no one should be excluded from a career in research on the basis of academically irrelevant factors such as gender, health, ethnic origin or age. We encourage applications from women and people with disabilities on the basis of equality. Six months later, the International day of women and girls in science offers an occasion to evaluate how Afrique One-ASPIRE has manage the gender issue in the new programme.

One third of people involved in Afrique One phase I are women

From 2009 to 2016, the consortium focused its activities on capacity building to create a critical mass of African scientists in One Health. One third of the candidates recruited to the available Master, PhD and postdoctoral fellowships as well as administrative positions were women (Fig 1).


Fig 1: Number of females involved in Afrique One according their position

Their involvement in science is mainly in the research on the transmission of zoonotic diseases and neglected tropical diseases as it is the case with Lydia Mosi (Ghana), Daniele Konan (Côte d’Ivoire) and Christelle Dassi (Côte d’Ivoire). Those three women concentrated their studies on Buruli ulcer, while Prisca Ndour and Fatoumata Coulibaly from Senegal studied a way for controlling toxoplasmosis.

Approaches to integrate the gender perspective in Afrique One-ASPIRE

From the lessons learned in phase 1, the consortium decided to equalise the gender-ratio in the five years to come (2016-2021). One of the current selection criteria for the Afrique One-ASPIRE fellows recruitment reflected this gender-awareness. Whenever men and women scored the same, the female was selected to balance the gender especially in the postdoctoral positions. Now, 35% of all fellows recruited were women (Fig 2). The fellowships will take into account the duration (maternity leave) and any other aspects related to the needs of the female candidates.


Fig 2: Repartition of Afrique One-ASPIRE fellows according to their position

At the institutional level, Afrique One-ASPIRE sensitizes its fifteen members to implement the principles of gender equality and to give an equal chance to all social groups with adequate supervision and mentorship.

All these approaches show the commitment of the Afrique One-ASPIRE consortium to promote #AfricanWomenInScience.

Dr Clémence Essé-Diby: a CSRS success story of #AfricanWomenInScience

Clemence Essé-Diby is an associate researcher at Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire (CSRS). Her career did not have any interruption until her Master degree. However, after she got married she had to take a break in her research career due to maternity and she continued to co-manage both family life and research activities. With the support of CSRS, Dr Essé-Diby defended her thesis and was recruited to the Université Félix Houphouet-Boigny d’Abidjan (UFBHA). During two years, she devoted herself to her academic career until the CSRS invited her to co-manage a research project. After four years of hard work and a strong desire for research, the CSRS directorate in line with its gender policy appointed her Head of the ‘CSRS valuation and valorization cell’ and other research projects.

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