The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and UNESCO have agreed to a new multi-year agreement worth about USD13.7 million that will fund the programmes of TWAS and two affiliated partners.
From 2017 to 2021, the agreement will provide roughly USD6.67 million to TWAS and USD6.4 million to the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD). The GenderInSITE initiative will receive USD632,000 over the next three years. The funding will allow the organisations to extend their influential research, training, policy and science diplomacy programmes.
"Across more than three decades, our partnership with Sida has had an extraordinary, positive impact on the advance of science in the developing world," said TWAS Executive Director Mohamed Hassan. "We have built labs, and we have educated and trained new generations of researchers. We are profoundly grateful for Sida's continuing support, and we will work to make the next five years our most productive yet."
TWAS is a programme unit of UNESCO, which handles the Academy's personnel and financial administration. An external evaluation initiated by Sida in 2016 concluded that TWAS, OWSD and GenderInSITE programmes are pursuing their missions effectively.
"TWAS and OWSD are very important partners in our efforts to build research capacity in developing countries," said Claire Lyngå, research advisor in Sida's Unit for Research Cooperation. "The support to TWAS has a specific focus on the basic sciences – mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology – which often are not a priority among funders. OWSD provides PhD scholarships specifically to women in a model that has proved very successful. We are also very happy to be able to support GenderInSITE in their important work in raising the awareness of gender aspects in science."
And, Lyngå added: "The results we have seen have been quite remarkable."
Both OWSD and GenderInSITE are based at TWAS headquarters in Trieste, Italy. OWSD, with more than 5,000 members, offers PhD fellowships for women scientists from 66 science- and technology-lagging countries, plus other projects. GenderInSITE is an international initiative that explores how gender-based analysis and insight can help improve science programmes and policy.
Sida's relationship with TWAS began in 1991, and in the past quarter-century, the Swedish agency has emerged as an essential supporter for the Academy's work. Since 1991, TWAS has distributed more than 2,200 research grants valued at more than USD17 million, allowing individual scientists and research groups in science- and technology-lagging countries to invest in equipment, publishing fees and training of early career staff with master's degrees.
Sida funding also has contributed to support for young scientists attending regional scientific conferences organised by TWAS Regional Offices and helped TWAS to build its science diplomacy programme. TWAS today focuses many of its key programmes on aiding scientists in 66 S&T-lagging countries.
Sida's support for OWSD started in 1997 and has had a far-reaching impact. Nearly 200 women from the Least Developed Countries and sub-Saharan Africa have obtained PhDs through OWSD fellowships supported by Sida, and over 200 others are currently completing these fellowships. Over the next five years, the new Sida funding will support PhD studies for an additional 140 women through OWSD. The funding will also support regional workshops, the OWSD General Assembly, and travel for OWSD fellows to international conferences.
GenderInSITE is an international initiative that aims to increase the number of policies and programmes in science, innovation, technology and engineering around the globe that take gender into account. The initiative holds presentations at conferences and events, raises the visibility of the issues in key international forums, and organizes workshops and panels that focus on using the gender lens to understand and improve policies related to science and development.
Sean Treacy and Edward W. Lempinen