The Regional Minister of Economy, Knowledge and Employment, Elena Máñez Rodríguez, and the President of the Women for Africa Foundation, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, inaugurated the Canarias Investiga conference at the PLOCAN headquarters. The meeting brought together African women scientists who are beneficiaries of the Science by Women programme and representatives of Canary Islands research centres to discuss their experiences and the work carried out during their stay on the islands.
Brenda Namumba, from Zambia, a visiting astrophysicist at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), Marie Ndiaye, from Senegal, a computer engineer at the University Institute of Biomedical and Health Research (IUIBS), and Lala Kounta, from Senegal, a visiting physical oceanographer at PLOCAN, were joined by Casiana Muñoz-Tuñón, deputy director of the IAC, Juan Ruiz Alzola, director of IUIBS, and Joaquín Brito, director of PLOCAN, to discuss the importance of programmes of this type to promote the access of African women researchers to science and technology, support them in their careers, showcase their achievements and promote their leadership in the international scientific community.
Twelve other African women scientists who are currently participating at other Spanish research centres as beneficiaries of the Science by Women programme also took part in the conference remotely.
The Regional Minister of Economy, Knowledge and Employment highlighted the importance of an event that links vital issues for the regional ministry and regional government, such as relations with a continent that will play a crucial role in the development of the islands and the importance of promoting knowledge transfer between the two. In this regard, Máñez pointed out that the Canary Islands “are much more than a hub to provide services in the Atlantic” and that the islands have leading research centres and Africa has “a great deal of talent to be harnessed”. “The Canary Islands have a lot to offer Africa and Africa has a lot to offer the Canary Islands”, she added.
She stressed that “Africa is represented here through the three excellent women researchers who have taken part in the programme in leading centres in their respective fields of research”, and pointed out that these are women scientists in sectors in which “we are largely under-represented”. “We are talking about empowerment, women and science, and that is what the Science by Women project represents,” she said.
For her part, Fernández de la Vega stressed the importance of this day “for science, for Africa and for the Canary Islands”. “It is very important for those of us who are working for the development of Africa through its women,” she stressed. She also pointed to scientific research as “one of the most important pillars for the development of the continent” and for achieving effective equality for women, who have to “take the field of science and technology by storm”. “If we want Europe, Spain and the Canary Islands to prosper, the African continent also has to prosper,” she said.