The countdown to this year’s South African Women in Science Awards, has started with the Eastern Cape forming the backdrop for this year's prestigious event.

 

A firm favourite on the Women’s Month calendar, the awards have recognised the achievements of women scientists and provided motivation for the increased participation of women in research, since 2003. The awards profile women scientists and researchers, and encourage and reward younger women who are starting their careers in research.

 

The theme for the 2019 SAWiSA event is "Making the fourth industrial revolution work for women".  The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is a new era in technological development that blurs the lines between physical, digital and biological systems. It integrates cyberphysical systems and the Internet of Things, big data and cloud computing, robotics, artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing. Compared to previous industrial revolutions, this one is evolving at an exponential rate with significant effects on society and human dynamics.

 

The human and social sciences are as critical as the natural and engineering sciences in the 4IR discourse. It is important that the power and potential of all people is unleashed for the 4IR and women, who account for more than half of the world's population, have a major role to play. 

 

Awards in the categories of Distinguished Women Researchers and Distinguished Young Women Researchers will be made for research in the Natural (Life and Physical) and Engineering Sciences, the Human and Social Sciences, and Research and Innovation.  Awards in the Research and Innovation category will be made in the areas aligned to the 4IR. The DST-Albertina Sisulu Fellowships and TATA Scholarships will be awarded to currently registered master's and PhD students.

 

The keynote address will be delivered by a distinguished academic from the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Prof. Charlene Africa, the Deputy Dean in the UWC Science Faculty.  Among her many qualifications, Prof. Africa has a PhD (Medicine) from the University of London, and an MSc in Dentistry and BSc Hons in Oral Biology from the University of the Witwatersrand.

 

Prof. Africa is contributing to significant advances in women's health, and believes that research into female diseases has been neglected for many years.

 

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande will host the awards ceremony at the Boardwalk Hotel in Port Elizabeth for the first time.

 

It will also be the first time the prestigious awards that celebrate women's excellence in science, technology and innovation will be held under the auspices of the newly named Department of Science and Innovation (formerly the Department of Science and Technology). Last year’s event was held in Polokwane.