The 4 biennial international conference and workshop of the Association of African Women Geoscientists (AAWG) entitled « Women and the International Year of Planet Earth » was organized jointly with UNESCO Cairo Office and was held in Cairo, Egypt, from 14 – 16 April 2008.
The 4 biennial international conference and workshop of the Association of African Women Geoscientists (AAWG) was held in Cairo, Egypt, from 14 – 16 April 2008. About 60 participants from 20 countries in Africa, Asia, USA and Europe assembled at Cairo University in Gizah. Africa was represented with delegates from Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Tunisia and South Africa. Representatives from the UNESCO Nairobi Office and the UNESCO Cairo Office were also present. Generally the conference and workshop served as a forum and opportunity for women geoscientists to interact and share experiences, ideas and knowledge.
The scientific programme contained oral and poster presentations. After a welcome address by Mohamed Al-Aawah, the UNESCO Cairo representative, who noted that women are generally still underrepresented in scientific, engineering and technological careers, he acknowledged that UNESCO, in support of networks of women across the world regions has been seeking to cross these bridges by developing new modalities of education that address science and technology learning at the grassroots level. The first day of the conference was then devoted to keynote addresses, which included presentations by Mohamed Al-Aawah (UNESCO Cairo Office) on “The Global UNESCO Network of Geoparks”, by Judith Totmann Parrish (University of Idaho, USA) on “Climate Change – Perspectives from the Past”, by Thomas Schlüter (UNESCO Nairobi Office) on “HIV/AIDS and Mining – an African Approach”, by William Bosworth (Apache Egypt Companies) on “Hydrocarbons and Rift Systems in Northeast Africa” and by Judith A. Kinnaird (University of Witwatersrand, South Africa) on “Mineralisation in the Bushveld Complex with a Focus on the Platreef”.
The second day dealt in four sessions with specific aspects in geophysics, geo-information and geo-education, palaeontology and micropalaeontology and groundwater resources. An invited talk by the American stratigrapher and sedimentologist Judith Totmann Parrish was concerned with “Reconstructing Semi-arid Ecosystems in the Mesozoic”. Day 3 was devoted to topics of mineralogy and sustainable development, climatic change and sustainable development and advanced technology for characterization of raw materials. Posters concerned with various geoscientific aspects all over Africa were exhibited during the period of the conference. A programme and abstract volume containing the oral and poster presentations was given out to all participants.
After the geoscientific deliberations the afternoon of Day 3 was devoted to discuss and conclude the final formulation of a resolution, which was agreed by the plenum of the AAWG. Therefore the following priorities were resolved:
o Capacity building for African women geoscientists in terms of proposal development, writing and presentation of scientific papers, as well as project preparation, research and other areas as the need arises.
o Promoting geosciences through development of educational and public programmes for local people targeting families and children, as well as through geosciences education in high schools and universities.
o Establishing collaborative research among the African women geoscientists and varied institutions such as Geological and Geographical Societies to enhance fundraising towards the goal of applied geosciences and related activities so as to contribute to both socio-economic development and environmental management.
o Creating and promoting awareness of geosciences among policy makers and the general public in Africa, particularly local communities on “Geoparks”, “Geomuseums”. Biosphere reserves, geoheritage sites and other important geosciences areas as public tools for conservation and development.
o Information sharing and dissemination on geosciences to enhance networking on opportunities and other relevant issues among members of the “Association of African Women Geoscientists”, with the aim of strengthening participation of geoscientists from the whole of the African continent.
Elections for positions of the AAWG governing council were held during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) with the following new officials:
President: Dr. Ezzoura Errami (Morocco), Vice President: Dr. Joy Obando (Kenya), Secretary General: Dr. Tea Juliette (Ivory Coast), Assistant Secretary General: Knar Ben Ismail Lattrache (Tunisia), Treasurer: Beatrice Ketchemen Tandia (Cameroon), Editor: Dr. Meseret Teklemariam (Ethiopia). As Regional Representatives were elected: Eastern Africa: Monica Omulo (Kenya), Southern Africa: Inocencia Maculuve (Mozambique), Western Africa: Gauly Marcelle (Ivory Coast), Central Africa: Prof. Veronique Kanga Kabeyene. As Patron Thomas Schlüter will still continue.
During the AGM it was agreed that:
o Representatives from all countries of Africa should participate in future AAWG conferences
o A website should be started for the AAWG so as to increase communication and visibility.
o The official registration of the AAWG should be done.
o Recruitment of members in local chapters should be intensified.
o The constitution should be reviewed.
The next conference of the AAWG in 2010 will be held in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), followed in 2012 by Cameroon.
by Thomas Schlueter, UNESCO Nairobi Office