THE Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World’s (OWSD) Malaysia National Chapter (MNC) recently marked its eighth year in facilitating the advancement of women in the field of science and technology.
Since its inception in 2011, the organisation had been striving to create changes to the national socio-economic landscape for women scientists to succeed.
Recently relaunched to comply with the new policies set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), OWSD MNC would forge a closer relationship with OWSD International to enhance women’s capabilities and contributions in the field of science.
Held at Berjaya Times Square Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on Aug 21, the ceremony also witnessed the relaunch of OWSD’s new logo.
OWSD MNC chairman and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) lecturer Professor Dr Lim Yang Mooi said: “Having OWSD MNC in the country is very important as gender equality is an issue that still persists today. I realised that women in science still face obstacles and challenges in their daily life.
“Although we have the desire to be involved, we face limitations, such as finding a balance between work and family life.
“With the government pushing for the increase in women involvement across all sectors, OWSD MNC plays an important role to gather women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and engage them through workshops, seminars and networking opportunities.”
In her speech, OWSD International representative Dr Tonya Blowers said the organisation aimed to create an environment where female scientists could flourish and be influential.
“The membership provides you an opportunity to meet other women scientists and talk about the challenges that you face as women in science in your countries.
“We also offer PhD fellowships, which are reserved for 66 eligible countries. Malaysia is not eligible as you are now at a level that you can support other countries,” said Blowers, adding that it was evident from the number of local and international female students studying at Malaysian universities.
Blowers added that OWSD had also developed an early career fellowship to help women from countries with limited resources.
“These women have to leave their countries if they wish to pursue a PhD or thrive in their career. we want to provide a mechanism for women to return to their country and maintain a high level of contact internationally. With US$50,000 (RM208,000), we hope the recipients will obtain resources to set up international collaboration and organise conferences.”
Academy of Science Malaysia president Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail said: “Malaysia now serves as a host to other developing countries. But it is important to note that the nation has gone through a lot to get to where we are today. Both women and men are needed to move the field of science in the country.
“The main challenge for us today is to boldly go where no one has ever gone before. We need to explore and conduct research to help people in low resource areas and underprivileged communities.”
Asma added that members were fortunate to have a platform like OWSD.
“The opportunity to network with other scientists will enrich your life. Although we come from different parts of the world, we share some commonalities. I congratulate Professor Lim and her team for making this event a success.”
Present were UTAR Medicine and Health Sciences Faculty dean Professor Emeritus Dr Cheong Soon Kheng and Universiti Malaya’s Professor Dr Rofina Yasmin Othman.
A programme of Unesco, OWSD is an international non-profit organisation based at the offices of The World Academy of Sciences.
Established in 1987, OWSD is the first international forum to unite women scientists from the developing and developed countries.