OWSD urges more women to embrace STEM, research

Mathematics research

The Organisation for Women in science for the Developing World (OWSD), Lagos chapter have called on more women to embrace STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) as well as research in Nigeria.

The organisation, a body of women scientists and researchers said there are few women embracing science and technology in the country, which calls for effective awareness and encouragement to younger women hoping to follow the line, but are discouraged due to certain challenges.

Speaking at the maiden symposium and inauguration of the Lagos chapter of the organisation at the Tayo Aderinokun Hall, University of Lagos (UNILAG), with the theme: “The Role of Women in STEM and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda”, the President of the state chapter, Prof. Joy Okpuzor said there are successful women scientists and researchers, who have made great feet in there respective fields of study, which should serve as a means of motivation to young women.

Okpuzor, who is from the department of Cell Biology and Genetics stressed that “Women are participating in STEM education but our numbers are small, so part of our mandate is to open up the space and to encourage more young girls to go into STEM and those who are already in it should continue and persevere in the STEM fields.”

A Senior Lecturer, Department of Botany UNILAG and General Secretary, OWSD Lagos chapter, Dr Taofeekat Adesalu said the objective of the organisation, whose chapter is been inaugurated in Lagos State, is to show to the world that women are progressing in science based discipline, and to also show the incoming younger ones, especially in high schools “not be scared of any science related subjects and should also know that in doing sciences, they can break even and be successful in life.”

She continued: “We also want to let them know that we have female Botanists, Marine Biologists, zoologists that are successful, which is why we focused on the topic of STEM today, our focus is on secondary school students who are present, so that when they see us they can have the motivation to go into sciences.

“We are trying to bridge the gap, and knowing fully well that the world problems are going to be solved technologically, so the world need science and technology and we need people to be in this area.”

Meanwhile, an OWSD PhD fellow, Dr Joy Ifunaya Odimegwu, who carried out her research in India on medicinal and aromatic plants, stressed that virtually all plants in Nigeria are proven to have medicinal properties.

Odimegwu, whose research is on yam said, the steroid helps in infertility and serves as anticancer, adding that the local people use it for tumours, which prompted her my research work at the Federal Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, India.

She, however, tasked the government to focus more our local products to boost cancer treatment considering the high cost of cancer drugs.

“A lot of money is required to boost herbal medicine because 80-90 per cent of the population are using it and now the WHO have said our life expectancy is 55, it was 47 before.

“These people are not surviving because of Orthodox medicine, that has failed us, we don’t have primary health care, so it is actually the herbal practitioners that are sustaining the people because people trust them to be natural products and many people are reverting into them.

This is true because it is an area I worked on and it is very effective in disease treatment,” she stressed.

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