AMMAN—The World Forum for Women in Science ended a three-day conference in Iraqi Kurdistan on March 10 with a call for scientists to do more to help refugees and rebuild war-torn countries.
The conference was organized jointly by the University of Duhok and Women in Science Without Borders (WISWB). Set up in Egypt in 2017 to increase cooperation between female and male scientists, WISWB now has a network of researchers and academics from different fields in more than 40 countries.
The conference was the first of its kind in the region to focus on the needs of refugees. Amal Amin, an Egyptian professor of nanotechnology and the founding chair of WISWB, told delegates that science was “the principal vital element for reconstruction and development.” (See a related article, “Amal Amin: An Egyptian Scholar Seeks Equity for All in Research and Science.”)
She noted that the forum brought together “female and male academics working in all fields of science, technology, engineering and math, including medicine and social related fields,” as well as representatives of international organizations and nongovernmental organizations.
Importance of Education for Refugees
Peter Trotter, head of the Duhok office of UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, emphasized the critical importance of education, both as a means of helping to sustain individual refugees and as a form of community support. (See a related article, “Refugee Education Efforts Not Keeping Up With Need.”)
UNHCR estimates that there are more than 80 million forcibly displaced people in the world, including both internally displaced people and refugees who have fled to another country. More than half of them are under the age of 18. Syrians account for the largest share of displaced people. In a recent report, UNHCR estimated that there were 6.6 million Syrian refugees who had fled to other countries and another 6.7 million people internally displaced inside Syria.
During the WISWB forum, Amin said: “For the future, I would like to invite all scientists to interact and share strongly with their communities to really change the world to a better place to live in for our next generation in the face of the various challenges that they will be facing.”