May 31, 2022
The Dominican Republic establishes the 50th National Chapter of OWSD, marking a huge milestone for OWSD's international membership.
With the establishment of the Dominican Republic National Chapter of OWSD in May 2022, OWSD reached an important milestone in its objective to promote collaboration and communication among women scientists and technologists in developing countries and with the international scientific community as a whole. The National Chapters are a critical part of OWSD's efforts to unite eminent women scientists from the developing world, to strengthen their role in the development process and promote their representation in scientific and technological leadership. They are able to pave the way towards these goals by identifying priorities and needs at the local, national, and regional levels. The rapid growth and spread of National Chapters in recent years demonstrates the huge enthusiasm and growing momentum of women scientists in the developing world who are eager to take this movement into their own hands.
National Chapters may be established in any country in the Global South with at least 20 full OWSD members. They carry out a wide range of events and activities, such as training workshops, scientific seminars, outreach to schools, and celebratory events. National Chapters also provide an essential support system and sense of community for women scientists in the developing world, who can often find themselves the only or one of few women in their laboratories or departments or at their level, particularly as they rise up the career ranks. "The great sense of community provided by OWSD helps to break the barrier of the impossible and to achieve excellence among women scientists", said Lim Yang Mooi, Chair of the OWSD Malaysia National Chapter.
The first currently active OWSD National Chapter was established in Yemen in 2003, followed by India in 2006, Egypt in 2008, Bangladesh, China and South Africa in 2009, Nigeria (the largest chapter) in 2010, and Sudan in 2017. The spread of National Chapters really started to take off, however, in 2018, when 8 National Chapters were launched to coincide with the celebration of OWSD's 25th anniversary, in Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Mauritius, Myanmar, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe. Eleven more chapters followed in 2019: Botswana, Cameroon, Jordan, Malaysia, Namibia, Pakistan, Peru, Tanzania, Republic of Türkiye, Uruguay, and Zambia. Despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 7 more National Chapters launched in 2020, in Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Palestine, and Senegal; this year was the beginning of a big push to recruit members and consolidate National Chapters in Latin America and the Caribbean, orchestrated largely by the Guatemala National Chapter. This push continued in 2021, with the establishment of National Chapters in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Mexico, as well as in Benin, Central Asia, Morocco, and Uganda. In 2022, 6 chapters have been established to-date: in Chile, the Republic of Congo, the Dominican Republic (the first chapter in the Caribbean), Nicaragua, Niger, and Venezuela.
Looking forward, OWSD will undoubtedly welcome more National Chapters, and will find new ways to support and connect the ones that exist, through new funding for activities, regional collaborations between chapters, and creating opportunities for various chapters to learn from each others' strengths—such as the OWSD 6th General Assembly in November 2021, which brought together members gathered in-person at 14 National Chapter events around the world. "The Cameroon Chapter participated in the closing ceremony by organising its first hub session, whereby a total of forty members and female students including five interested male students of the University of Yaounde I followed the event live at the Multimedia Hall of the Faculty of Science in the main campus," shared Elvira Hortense Biye, Chair of the Cameroon National Chapter. "The members present shared their experiences for over two hours, it was an exciting session."
All OWSD members are invited to tell us, 'What does my National Chapter mean to me?', responding with their answer on their own social media account (Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram) using the hashtag #50OWSDNCs. We look forward to seeing your responses!
Watch: videos from OWSD National Chapters around the world