Newsletter - October 2012, Issue 2


What places for Moroccan women in science and technology? Situation and realities
Statistics: State of the Art, Data Collection and Comparative Analysis
Arab Women and Gender Progress in Science

International Cooperation Projects and Events
Maysoon al Zoubi
Engineer, Jordan

Tawhida Ben Cheikh
Gynaecologist, Tunisia

Rim Turkmani
Astrophysic, Syria

by Maria Caprile, CIREM, Spain

This second issue of our SHEMERA e-newsletter gives plenty of details about progress made in the last three months. Whilst collecting statistical data on women and science has already been  done for most Southern Mediterranean countries, we have started to work in the field of gender equality policies and research on women’s and men’s scientific careers. Overall, work is under way and we expect to organise, next year, a round of national seminars on gender and science in order to discuss the results of our work and its policy implications.
Having said this, I cannot but refer to other, less pleasant, developments. These days I find myself remembering one key message of the ‘Meta-analysis on gender and science’ report, in which some of the SHEMERA partners took part: “Progress on gender equality in science cannot be taken for granted”. This statement was made explicitly in reference to EU Member States, although I think it can also refer to other countries.
I am afraid we were not fully aware of what laid ahead of us, when we were discussing this report, in 2010: bad times, for 99% of people in general, but also for women and science in particular. Take Spain as an example of the Northern Mediterranean – or Southern European – countries. In the last decade, Spain made outstanding progress towards gender equality in many fields, including science. However, under the new “economic crisis” political approach, public budget cuts and conservative policies are quickly eroding many of these achievements, also in the field of science. Beyond coherent and systematic gender equality policies, it seems clear that increasing spending on R&D, in support of young researchers, was one of the main drivers of huge progress in terms of women’s participation in science. Yet Spanish spending on R&D is turning back to the level of mid-2000s.
Spain is an example of returning to the past. What about the situation in other countries such as Tunisia? Turning back from the future? Many of us thought that the “Arab spring” was a step towards more democracy, more justice and more gender equality. What to expect then, in Tunisia, the country with the most advanced law of the family in the Arab world? A country in which women played such a relevant role in changing the political regime? In recent months, we have seen attempts to remove the principle of equality between women and men from the Constitution (fortunately, unsuccessful), alongside such an inaccurate institution of proportional parity in the electoral lists that it has ended up with just 23% of women in the ANC (National Assembly Constitutional) and an almost completely male-dominated government. A disappointment, in terms of hopes placed on gender equality.
Shemera partners are fully committed to gender equality in all spheres of life, and we will keep working on gender equality in science. We only hope to contribute to overcoming the past – moving towards a better future for all.



CIREM – Fundació Centre d’Iniciatives i Recerques Europees a la Mediterrània, Spain
ULB – Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
TETALAP – Hungarian Science and Technology Foundation, Hungary
EKT/NHRF – National Documentation Centre / National Hellenic Research Foundation, Greece
ITU – Istanbul Teknik Universitesi, Turkey
IDIS – Fondazione IDIS - Città della Scienza, Italy
AARC – Arab and African Research Centre, Egypt
ASRT – Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt
CIDDEF – Association culturelle M’Barek Ait Menguelet, Algeria
AU – Alexandria University, Egypt
WSC – University of Jordan, Jordan
RSS – Royal Scientific Society, Jordan
USJ – Université Saint-Joseph, Lebanon
UH2MC – Université Hassan II, Mohammedia-Casablanca, Morocco
IWS – Birzeit University, Palestinian-administered areas
ALEPPO – Aleppo University, Syrian Arab Republic
FSB – Université de Carthage, Tunisia

What Places for Moroccan Women in Science and Technology? Situation and Realities
by Rachid Nafaa, Amina Bettachy, Mohamed Abderebbi, , Kamal Mellakh, H. Abidi, H. Dyaji, Université Hassan II - Mohammedia, Morocco
In Morocco, the major concern has long been that of training teachers, administrative staff and, more recently, technical managers. The research organization that developed spontaneously with the expansion of the educational system, the design of national policy and its implementation is both flexible and put into effect but they were not real priorities.

Until 1998, in fact, the research has not been organized as a whole. Whereas in some sectors, such as agriculture, energy or health, research is "oriented" by the responsible minister, in others, such as university, management or training, it does not call or look or support the State (Mina Kleiche-Dray, Ilham Laaziz and Zebakh Sanaa, Report on Capacity Assessment in Scientific, Technical and Innovation Mediterranean Countries 2007)

The modern higher education system was introduced just after independence. The first university was established in Rabat, in 1957. Currently, there are 14 universities up 105 institutions located in 17 different cities, covering 14 sectors of education. Academic institutions are classified into two categories:

 1. Schools with open access:
 • Faculty of Basic Skills.
 • Faculties of Economics, Law and Social Sciences.
 • Faculty of Arts and Humanities.
 • Faculty of Sciences

 2. Institutions with selective access:
 • Faculties of Medicine and Pharmacy.
 • Faculty of Dentistry.
 • Faculty of Science and Technology.
 • School of Business and Management.
 • Higher Schools of Technology.
 • School of Translation.
 • Faculty of Education.
 • Schools of Engineering.
Along with the transformation of such institutions of higher education in universities, some private institutions have been established during the 80s. At present, there are hundreds of schools in more than 15 cities of the Kingdom.
Facilities management training are divided into 3 categories:
Twenty-three scientific and technical institutions.
Fourteen legal and economic institutions and social administrations.
Educational institutions consisting of thirteen Regional Educational Centres (CPR),  six higher Normal Schools, two National Schools Higher Technical Education  (ENSET), the Inspectors Training Centre for Education and the Centre for Guidance and Planning Education (COPE).

In Morocco, it is difficult to give precise figures on the number of teachers involved in research activity or the time devoted by the teacher to research. Teachers are all aware that research should influence teaching and the definition of programs. They want to be involved in research if the State provides for the necessary means and equipment. Teachers and researchers are affiliated with research laboratories who supervise PhD students in collaboration with other academic institutions and laboratories abroad, without forgetting some national public and private companies investing in R&D. The “Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique” is a service that implements research programs according to national priorities.

Funding for research projects comes from several funding frameworks such as national programs to support scientific research (PARS), thematic programs to support scientific research (PROTARS), Research and Development R&D Morocco, Practice Areas networks and international frameworks such as integrated actions Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, the European project and also internal program to encourage scientific research. The allocation of funds is made after expertise of the project proposal based on the objectives of the issues of human and material resources and socio-economic benefits. These funds are used to purchase equipment, to cover documentation costs or mission abroad in Morocco and 20% of the amount allocated to each project is within the operating budget of the institution.

For each projects or PARS PROTARS, the maximum amount allocated is 300 000 DH. Since 1998, these programs have been a call for tenders on Research and Development priority axes launched with the scientific community.

A relatively old study on the distribution of researchers by sex (Amina Benmansour, 1999 - Women In reviewing the Maghreb) revealed that 1423 out of the 6941 Moroccan researchers are women, 20% of the scientific community, and only 70 research units out of the 910 identified are headed by women (13%). Since in Morocco women make up half of the population and that equal access of girls to education in legal terms is acquired, women numerical inferiority in the research landscape is striking. This numerical imbalance between researchers can be explained in several ways. First, (and we cannot resist the urge to say stupidly) for a lack of time as not always persons for research requirements are available. What is true for men researchers is even more true for women researchers in addition to other specific constraints such as maternity, child rearing, housework, etc.. Secondly and most importantly, this imbalance is due to the smaller number of teachers in higher education. Indeed, despite a certain feminization of the teaching staff of universities (which is likely to continue) the proportion of university teachers in the overall number remains modest: in 1992-93 it was 22.3% 6. Is that women are more affected than men by illiteracy plaguing our country in alarming proportions.

The increase female enrolment in Morocco: a factor of women's access to science
In Morocco, the enrolment of girls since the beginning of independence (1956) has trained the first generation of girls in science. This was generation a pioneer generation, who accessed scientific work and paid to key positions in institutions and agencies in training and scientific research. But this movement is still in its infancy. Girls' access to scientific and technical studies remains limited in several branches and consequently the prospects for the integration of women in science are still below the requirements of fairness and equality. Despite positive developments in Morocco in terms of access of girls and women to education, academic and social inequalities persist between girls and boys in orientation to scientific and technical studies. It follows that overall, Morocco, the presence of women in scientific professions remains relatively low despite the significant progress made with regard to the education of girls. The analysis of data shows that between 1998 and 2008, Morocco has experienced a dramatic change in percentage of women in scientific and technical institutes and colleges (27.6% in 1998 to 49.7 % in 2008). It also appears that the spread of education is a factor that has promoted women's access to training and scientific professions. Female enrolment in schools has not stopped growing since independence. Available statistics reveal a significant increase in the enrolment of girls at different levels of education, especially in urban areas. In 2009, the enrolment of girls in primary education reached 93.7% in urban areas.
The increase was even greater for higher university. Since the 1960s, the number of women in Moroccan universities has been multiplied by 80. But this dramatic change should not obscure the effect of gender discrimination in access to education. Few women have access to adult education in general and higher education science and technology in particular. Illiteracy remains fairly common among women. Indeed, the literacy rate of women aged 10 years and older did not exceed 49.2% in 2009. In rural areas, the rate is only 31%. Moreover, in many respects, for Moroccan girls and women accessing education, science and technology appear as privileged in a social context marked by the reproduction of illiteracy and the lack of widespread education.

Women in science and technology: progress and persisting differences
The number of women graduating from higher education (licensed) has not ceased to grow. The 2009-2010 data indicate that the parity between boys and girls has been achieved in several areas of study. The more, in some sectors, the proportion of girls laid far exceeds that of boys. This is the case, for example, of legal and economic sciences, where the percentage of graduated women reached 53.9%, of humanities with a rate of 55.3% and of business and management with a rate 57.1%. Some courses such as dentistry or medicine and pharmacy chains are feminized par excellence. In 2009/2010, the percentage of Moroccan women graduated in medicine and pharmacy reached 63.6% and in dentistry 73, 3%. This strong feminization of medicine and pharmacy is not a particular fact in Morocco. It is explained by the fact that girls who choose science and engineering still show a preference for medical and biological sciences.

However, in other sectors, the girls presence is lower than boys. Overall, the proportion of girls in science, technology and engineering is lower compared with that of boys. But it should be noted that the evolution of the share of girls in these courses is on the rise in recent years. Analysis of the data shows that the proportion of girls laid faculties has increased by 14% between 1999/2000 and 2009/2010.
Despite real progress recorded in the access of girls and women in education Moroccan scientific disciplines, training and scientific and technical institutions remain inaccessible for Moroccan women. This is precisely the case of engineering schools where the proportion of women does not exceed 20%. The low proportion of women in national engineering colleges is explained both by the "male" label of these schools.

Source: Annuaire statistique du Maroc. HCP. 2011.
Women in the world of work and careers in science
The emergence of the category of graduated women from universities and science institutes,
the quantitative development of female employees working in Morocco date back to the post-independence and they are mainly due to the increase in female enrolment. It should be recalled that under the Protectorate, female enrolment has been very low and therefore the participation of women in wage was not very massive. After independence, the school has been opened to urban masses (including girls) enhancing qualitative changes in female employment conditions such as the increasing the number of female jobs paid, the feminization of certain professions thought to be typically male jobs. One effect of the qualitative development of female employment lies in the fact that it has become socially acceptable for a woman or qualified graduate work.

Socially and professionally, the figure of the "graduate woman" has gradually established as a figure in the collective imaginary: schoolgirls who stormed into a dramatic surge faculties of social sciences and sciences during the 70s and 80s. The process of “massification” of students number has led to the emergence of a sizeable proportion of female employees or qualified graduates. Thus, it has emerged a massive social representation of the " graduate woman in technical and scientific universities and colleges." This figure unprecedented in Moroccan society has played a leading role in the social visibility and professional women. This visibility has increased with the feminization of a growing number of jobs including those areas related to education, health and administration. But overall, women's access to work in Morocco and salary remained quite low. In 2010, the participation rate of women is only 23.4% against 68% for men.

The feminization of jobs and careers in science: scope and limitations
The feminization of certain traditionally male professions, in Morocco, has undergone profound qualitative changes. The feminization of some major groups of occupations is an undoubtedly irreversible social change that reflects advancements recorded in the access of women to employment and work. However, this progress remains both limited and fragile as access to productive activities and resources is still marked by some disparities in access to professions and trades economically and socially very profitable. Thus, the data analysis (see Table below) shows that the percentage of women legal professionals related to the legislative body (judges, lawyers etc.) elective offices and positions of responsibility remains limited. This feminization has changed little over time. Overall, the feminization of employment in Morocco was 27.1% in 2000. It declined slightly in 2010 (26.7%).
It is also clear that the feminization of occupation is quite variable in Morocco. The highest rate of female employment is registered with the workers (51.5%). The feminization of executives and professionals does not exceed 31.9%. The professions that remain inaccessible to most women are business related to trade and finance (only 5.6% of women have this type of work).

Scientific analysis of the situation of women in teaching and research are quite significant. The percentage of women teachers and researchers in Morocco has not changed for 10 years. This rate did not exceed 25.3% in 2010. It was 23.3% in 1998. The analysis of the official data of the feminization of different grades of teachers[1] and researchers shows that the higher up the ranks, plus the presence of women decreases in the craft of teaching and research. It takes almost double the proportion of women in grade PES (15.7%) to be equal to that of PESA (29.3%).

The uneven distribution of teachers lead to high inequality in the development of teaching and scientific research careers. Data analysis show the existence of strong overall differences in the career development of women and men, particularly with regard to access to upper grade Professor (PES). In addition, only 36% of women recruited as a lecturer in the context of the old regime are now professors of Higher Education. This proportion rises to 60.1% among men. A large gender gap thus characterizes the career development of the category of lecturers whose entry into the body of teachers and researchers back to the period before the 1997 reform. In the field of faculty research, it is not enough that women is on the same plane of men at the beginning of their career. Strong social logic entailed more difficulties for women teachers investment in a career comparable to that of men. Several hypotheses can be put forward to explain the differences in teachers’ career development such as an higher internalization of social inequalities due to gender status, difficult conciliation between professional and domestic labor, discriminatory practices against teachers from the professional environment.... It is undoubtedly difficult to arbitrate between these explanatory hypotheses in the absence of specific studies and investigation on the matter. In 2010, the teachers-researchers are 2690 women and 10469 men!

The new constitution ended any confusion in terms of gender equality.
In 2011 the Moroccan Constitution was reformed. Article 19 states that "man and wife enjoy equal human rights and freedoms in civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental statements in this title and other provisions of the Constitution and in international covenants and conventions duly ratified by the Kingdom and in compliance with the Constitution, laws and constants of kingdom. The Moroccan State Work to achieve parity between men and women. It is created for this purpose, an Authority for Equality and the fight against all forms of discrimination.”

Article 31 states that the state, public institutions and local authorities work to provide for all means allowing citizens’ equal access to their rights:
- Health care
- Social protection, medical coverage and mutual solidarity or organized by the state
- Modern education, accessible and quality
- Education on attachment to the Moroccan identity and national constants immutable
- Vocational training and physical education and artistic
- Decent housing
- Labor and government support for research employment or self-employment
- Access to public office based on merit
- Access to water and a healthy environment
- Sustainable development
Gender in science and technology was not a priority and it is only in the last decade that the gender issues have gained in importance and leading to legislative reforms in Morocco. The main assumptions guiding our research are:
- The students are the majority in higher education
- The proportion of women in public research progresses modestly
- Women's access to positions of responsibility has experiences few changes
- A stronger presence in public and in private research
- Lack of statistical data about women scientists in the private sector
At the moment, awareness on the role of women in science in Morocco is fragmentary and it is in part due to the lack of official data and the scarcity of detailed studies on this issue. It will be very ambitious attempt to draw up an overview of the situation of women in science and technology  in the country and even less about the social conditions of training and employment of women in scientific fields (both public and private).
The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of women the role in science in Morocco. Based on statistical data and the quantitative studies available, we will examine the role of women in the world of education and scientific and technical work.


Statistics: State of the Art, Data Collection and Comparative Analysis
by Danièle Meulders, Economist, Full Professor, Department of Applied Economics, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
Sile O'Dorchai, Assistant professor Department of Applied Economics, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

Work package 3 “Statistics: state of the art, data collection and comparative analysis” of the SHEMERA project consists in compiling harmonised sex-disaggregated data in all the MPCs and in calculating the indicators necessary for monitoring and comparing the progress towards gender equality in science in the Mediterranean area. More precisely, the task is to collect sex-disaggregated data on science, in each MPC, with respect to four subject areas, following the example of She Figures 2009:

1. Data that allow to quantify women’s presence in science;
2. Data that illustrate the degree of horizontal segregation or women’s distribution (relative to men’s) across the different fields of science;
3. Data relative to vertical segregation or women’s distribution (relative to men’s) across the different hierarchical levels of a typical academic career as well as across the hierarchy of occupational groups in the government and business enterprise sectors;
4. Data that help assess the level of fairness and success rates for women in scientific fields or women’s influence (relative to men’s) on the setting of the scientific agenda, notably by their presence on boards, their success rates in gathering research funds, and so forth.

The compilation of data for the MPCs similar to those published in She figures for the EU will allow not just to compare the MPCs among each other but also to confront the situation of women in science in the MPCs with the prevailing situation in the EU.

In order to ensure the establishment of common methodological guidelines, a workshop was organised by DULBEA in Brussels on June 20, 2011 and addressed to the national experts in charge of the collection of national data.

In preparation of this workshop, DULBEA drew up a list of all the data that are needed for the establishment of She(mera) Figures as well as an overview of definitions to guide the national experts responsible for collecting the data for their respective countries.

In the meantime, the data collection has been more or less finalised for 6 countries: Palestine, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. For the three remaining countries: Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, more problems are encountered and the collection remains in a very preliminary stage.

Hereafter follow some preliminary findings to set the scope. The proportion of female researchers is similar at 25% in Palestine and Morocco but higher at 37% in Syria in 2010. However, there are considerably more female researchers among active women than there are male researchers among active men in Palestine and Syria. There is a very small underrepresentation of women in Morocco. Women represent between 19% and 41% of all researchers in the higher education sector, and around 31-32% in the government sector. Whereas women tend to outnumber men in the youngest age group (<35 years), the opposite is generally observed for researchers above 55 years of age illustrating the workings of a generation effect.

In 2010, between 33% and 56% of all PhD graduates were women. Their proportion stood at 33% in Syria, 35% in Jordan, 36% in Morocco, 39% in Egypt, 52% in Lebanon and 56% in Tunisia. An analysis by scientific field shows that the share of female PhD graduates varies considerably across the different fields of study but that gender segregation across fields of study comes out as far less pronounced in the Mediterranean Partner Countries than we are used to find in European countries.

The proportion of women is the smallest at the top of the academic hierarchy, falling back to almost 0% of grade A academic staff in Palestine and Jordan, to less than 10% in Syria, and to around 20% in Lebanon and Morocco. These figures clearly indicate the existence of a glass ceiling composed of difficultly identifiable obstacles that hold women back from accessing the highest positions in the hierarchy. Egypt stands out from the other countries with a percentage of 35% of women among grade A academic staff (the highest grade/post at which research is normally conducted). When looking at the different fields of study separately, it can be noted that, in 2010, the proportion of women among grade A academic staff is the highest in the medical sciences except for Syria. The social sciences and the humanities also host large shares of women at grade A except for Jordan and Morocco. In contrast, in engineering and technology, the under-representation of women is striking in all countries except for Egypt.

Women’s under-representation at the highest hierarchical levels of the academic career severely hampers women’s chances of being at the head of universities or similar institutions in higher education. In Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, only about 4-5% of institutions in the higher education sector are headed by women. This proportion rises to 11% in Egypt. It is interesting to compare these figures with the proportions of women among grade A academic staff. Whereas the average proportion of women among grade A academics ranged between 3% in Palestine and 35% in Egypt, just between 4% and 11% of institutions in the higher education sector are headed by women in 2010. The image of the leaky pipeline is thus felt everywhere. The more we advance along the academic ladder, the less women we find.  Another indicator can be usefully added to this overall pattern: the proportion of women on boards. Between 6% (Syria) and 23% (Lebanon) of board members are women. The most important institutions in the scientific landscape are thus dominantly led and managed by men.

Arab Women and Gender Progress in Science
by Sveva Avveduto, Sociologist, CNR, Italy

On 8 March 2011, Nature Middle East (Nature 2011) devoted an editorial to some Arab women scientists from Egypt, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Even if they are an exception, they also represent a possible role model: successful, purposeful and internationally recognized researches whose experience is likely to be path to “gender progress” in science.

Attention to the gender issue as a whole is a backdrop to the specific matter of science that is rooted in different contexts as well as in women’s NGOs of Arab countries whose activity is focused on the achievement of different objectives. Some of these are engaged in women rights’ promotion and in the elimination of gender discrimination by laws relating, for example, to women personal status or their social guarantees. Some others have been promoting charitable activities, cash transfer and revenue generator projects for women or provided health, education and welfare services. Relatively a few of these organizations worked, instead, in favour of women empowerment conceiving it as a collective goal and a commitment to the whole community, an approach that could ensure gender balance in all fields of public life, as well as in science.

Women empowerment is often prevented by socio-political forces that intend it as a Western imposition violating Arab culture and its independence. For this reason, the gender perspective finds strong opposition (UNDP, 2006).
Anyway, data provided by the United Nations present a positive evolutionary trend of the situation (ESCWA, 2007). Between 1990-1995 and 2000-2005, women life expectancy rose from 66 to 69.3 years; the total fertility rate in the Arab countries declined from 4.90 to 3.84 children per woman, as a result of the increase in family planning and women health awareness and also maternal mortality ratios declined, even if a modest 67 per cent of all Arab women gave birth in the presence of skilled health personnel. At the same time, the gender parity index (GP1), which measures the ratio of girls to boys, increased between 1990 and 2002 from 0.79 to 0.90 in primary education, from 0.76 to 0.91 in secondary education and from 0.60 to 0.85 in tertiary education. But, between 1990 and 2002, the adult literacy rate of Arab women rose from 35 to 49.6 per cent, while the corresponding rate for Arab men increased from 63.5 to 72 per cent (Abu Falid, 2009). Despite this advancement, 44 million adult women (aged over 15 years and representing almost half of the female population of the Arab region) could not read or write in 2002 (ESCWA, 2004). Moreover, the gender gap in youth literacy rates is wider than that of adults. Out of the 13 million illiterate young people in this area, 8.5 million are women and the region continues to suffer from high school drop-out rates for girls.

According to ESCWA (2007), women’s economic activity rate in the Arab region, which was estimated at 29 per cent in 2000, is one of the lowest in the world. Gender inequality in the labour market is manifested in other significant ways, such as wage gaps, occupational segregation and women’s disproportionate representation in informal employment.

In this context, particular attention should be paid to women’s jobs and careers in the science sector, also dealing with the additional difficulties related to the issue of gender and science in the Arab region with respect to Western countries.


Science represents an opportunity for sustainable development and peace for all people living along Mediterranean shores. The number of women, capable of creative and original expression within the scientific community and in Mediterranean countries, has grown. Women do not represent an abstract category but rather real people in the flesh, with their own personal experiences and an individual personalities. This is why every issue of the Shemera project e-newsletter offers “portraits” (brief biographical profiles) of three researchers who have all contributed, and continue to do so, in making science an opportunity for sustainable development and peace in their countries and in the entire Mediterranean region.

by Pietro Greco, Science Writer, Fondazione IDIS – Città della Scienza

Maysoon al-Zoubi
She got a bachelor of Engineering at the University of Jordan in 1986. Then, she attended many specialization courses abroad. She got a Master of Water Demand Management at the Jordan University of Science and Technology. From January 2009 to July 2012, she has been the Secretary of the Jordan Ministry of Water & Irrigation.
«Today the challenges that we face as an emerging economy with limited resources in building stability and peace, countering extremism and embracing democracy, depend on the full participation of women in society».
The relationship between women, development and democracy is one of the fundamentals that lie at the bottom of Maysoon al-Zoubi career as a civil servant, a woman scientist serving her country. The other one is water, a no less important aspect in her work. In Jordan, the blue gold, namely drinkable water, is a rare and precious good and its effective management is an high-priority. Perhaps, this is one of the main challenges Jordan faces and women scientists and technicians contribution to this issue can be decisive.
Maysoon al-Zoubi has also worked as a consultant of the Hashemite Royal Court, of the Jordan Prime Minister and of international donors and technology transfer organizations in infrastructure and Ministries performance. She served as the Technical Committee Chair for the ambitious Red to Dead Sea Project, she has been a member of the Nuclear Technology Outsourcing Committee and a Board member of the Arab Desalination society. She has also won several awards of merit in recognition for her achievements and contribution.
Maysoon al-Zoubi is married and she has got two children. As she has worked in the private sector, she has been playing a leading role in defining water management policies, both in her country and in the whole Middle Eastern region. She has always been convinced that women empowerment is a key factor to solve technical, economic and social problems. She also points out that 80% of all university students in Jordan are young women but only 9% of them is employed. For this reason, she states that: «Empowering women today is, perhaps, one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children».

Maysoon Zoubi oversees Highland Water Forum initiative in encourages composting to handle waste while providing additional sources of income for farmers Maysoon Zoubi among farmers to promote irrigation efficiency and the safe use of treated marginal water

Tawhida Ben Cheikh
She was born in Tunis, on 2 January 1909. She was the first girl to pass the baccalaureate in Tunisia, in 1928. On Mr and Mrs Burent advice, she went to Paris to study medicine and she got her degree in 1936. She was the first Muslim woman in the Arab world working at first as a paediatrician and then as a gynaecologist.
Tawhida Ben Cheikh has been the first woman raising the problem of female conditions in French colonies, at the rise of the women’s rights movement in France, in 1931. But this is not the only record she has set.
During her studying period in Paris, she got a PCB diploma (Physique, Chimie et Biologie) and then she started working as a paediatric house officer in an hospital. In the meanwhile, she also became socially and politically active in the French capital. She joined the North African Students Association and she directly got engaged on women’s rights promotion in France, paying particular attention to Muslim women’s rights in its colonies.
When she went back to Tunis, she got a specialization in gynaecology. She started attending a great number of women and she often worked totally for free. She was not only the first woman doctor in Tunisia and North Africa but she also publicly claimed her right to be a doctor. She also claimed women's right to health and to get specific treatments and cares. For all this, she drew mass media attention and, in 1938, the association Union des Femmes Musulmanes organized a ceremony in her honour.
Between 1955 and 1977, she worked in the Public Health Service, firstly at the Charles Nicolle Hospital and then at the Aziza Othmana Hospital. In 1963, she mainly contributed in defining the first Tunisian family planning policy and in 1968 she founded the first African birth control clinic In Montfleury.
Tawhida Ben Cheikh was the niece of Tahar Ben Ammar who led the negotiations for Tunisia's independence, in 1956. She has been for long the vice-president of the Tunisian Red Cross and she promoted a humanism that still is a model.
Tawhida Ben Cheikh dead on 6 December 2010 when she was 101 years old.

Rim Turkmani

Rim Turkmani, 41 years old, is a Syrian theorist astrophysics. She works at the Space and Atmospheric Physics Group at the Physics Department of Imperial College, in London, and she is a Dorothy Hodgking Research Fellow at the Royal Society. Her research is mainly focused on the study of the Sun and particularly the Solar Corona. Yet, Rim Turkmani is an all-round scientific intellectual: she is interested in science history and communication and in the relationship between science and society in the Arab World.

Her higher education started in Syria, where she got a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering at Damascus University. Then, she moved to Sweden, where she first attended a Master of Physics and then she got a PhD in Theoretical Astrophysics, at Gteborg Chalmers University of Technology.
After this, she has started working at the London Imperial College where she studies the Sun and, particularly, its Corona. Her research focuses on hard X-rays emissions and on the particle acceleration causing solar flares. Yet, as she loves saying, she does not sit behind a telescope but rather behind a desk since, as a theorist astrophysics, she simulates models on the Solar Corona on her computer.
Rim Turkmani also studies history of science and of Syrian and Islamic science above all. Her inspiring muse is the Alexandrine mathematician Ipazia. At the Royal Society, she curated the exhibition “Arabic Roots”, about Islamic roots of Science.

Rim Turkmani is also engaged in scientific education development in Arab countries and she is working to create the European Muslim Woman network in order to foster intercultural dialogue. She is persuaded that women scientists work can be an essential factor to realize peace and development in the Arab world. «Arab women scientists achieve a lot in their fields and have made it to very high positions. To progress in science, one has to get involved in research which means going abroad. There are indeed obstacles to being a Muslim woman in science, but I chose not to be daunted by them».

International Cooperation Projects and Events
by Michaela Riccio, Giulia D’Argenio, Fondazione IDIS – Città della Scienza.
United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).
In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. It puts together four pre-existing entities of the UN system working for gender equality and women’s empowerment such as the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). UNIFEM delivers grants for innovative programmes proposed by national organizations and institutions to promote economic, political and cultural empowerment at local, national and regional levels.
In the 2009-2010 grantmaking cycle, UNIFEM delivered more than USD 37.5 million to 40 innovative programmes around the world and the following is one of the initiatives funded within the Arab region.
Promoted in the framework of an integrated strategy for working women, the Salheya initiative seeks to advance gender equity by enabling female effective participation in the economic sphere. It is expected to directly impact about 670,000 young women from middle and higher education; 55,000 unemployed women between 15 and 30 years old and 79,000 women working in the formal/informal private sector. Egyptian partner agencies cooperating with UN WOMEN: Government Ministry of Investment, National Council for Women Civil Society, women’s groups, labor unions, women’s groups.  

World Urban Forum 6
2-6 September 2012 | Naples, Italy
From 2 to 6 September 2012, the City of Naples has hosted the sixth session of the World Urban Forum, an initiative promoted by UN-HABITAT, the United Nations Agency for Human Settlements. The agency is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. The Forum is an international platform where problems connected to rapid urbanization are discussed and initiatives and commitments to create more democratic, sustainable and humane cities are identified. The Forum has also hosted the second Gender Equality Action Assembly guided by the theme “Fostering Economic Empowerment in Cities”. The Huairou Commission has taken the lead of the Assembly after hosting the Grassroots Women Academy, a meeting of grassroots women organizations, during which a final document containing recommendations presented at the Assembly was elaborated.
MIRA International Conference on "Mediterranean Countries and EU opportunities"
22-23 October 2012 | Amman - Jordan
The Conference is aimed at spurring synergies and complementarities among different projects co-funded by the European Commission under the 7FP Capacities Programme, to enable MPC to be protagonist of EU  strategies and initiatives, for the period 2012-2020. The work will be carried out taking into account two main cooperative dimensions: the bilateral one, represented by Jordan-EU cooperation, and the regional one, involving all MPC partners of MIRA and other INCONET countries.
European Gender Summit 2012
29-30 November 2012 | European Parliament – Brussels
The European Gender Summit 2012 brings together top-level researchers, science leaders, and policy makers to examine gender issues that impact on the implementation of the upcoming HORIZON 2020, European Research Area and Innovation Union. This edition will demonstrate innovative initiatives in the area of gender equality introduced by leading science institutions and distinguished scientists  will discuss opportunities for the advancing women excellence in science.
Italian association “Women & Science” VIII National Congress
4-6 October 2012  | Certosa of Pontignano - Siena
The annual congress of the Italian association “Women & Science” has just ended. It hosted a specific session on gender medicine that has aroused great interest. Only in recent years, in fact, attention on this issue has increased, highlighting core aspects about women health that were absolutely ignored before. In particular, pharmacological research has shown up that almost half of all drugs withdrawn from the market have side effects on women: this is because drugs are tested only on male subjects.

INTERACT ENPI 5th Annual Conference in Jordan
16-17.10.2012 | Jordan

2012 Euro-Mediterranean Summit of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions
17-19.10.2012 | Amman, Jordan

Workshop on Technology Transfer and Valorisation of Research results in the Med region
25-26.10.2012 | Lamarca, Cyprus

FOCUS Note 1
The body of faculty in higher education in Morocco, includes the following settings: Professor of Higher Education (SEP), Professor authority (PH), assistant professor (PA) non-permanent teacher-researcher (Associate Professor and temporary teachers).
Functions of faculty include teaching, research and supervision. They are assumed full-time assignment in their establishments. Teachers and researchers can engage in activities of teaching, research and / or guidance outside their institution after written permission of the head teacher which they belong and for periods in framework agreements or agreements between the university or institution to a public body.
Teachers and researchers who have worked for seven consecutive years receive their functions, to the extent compatible with the interests of the service, a research leave or upgrading or retraining course or an academic year. During this period, teachers retain all of their remuneration commensurate with their rank and their rights to advancement and retirement.
Part of PES has three grades: A, B and C with 4 levels. They are recruited from each university, and within the limits of budgetary positions to be filled by open competition entitled practicing teachers in academic institutions supporting empowerment and academic who served for at least four years in that capacity. Part of PH has three grades A, B and C with 4 levels. They are recruited directly from securities teacher-assistants supporting empowerment and university fulfilling one of the following two conditions (i) have reached the third level of at least assistant professor grade for those who come from a teaching framework, (ii) have four years of exercise at least as an assistant professor for the other candidates. The framework has four PA grades: A, B, C and D with 4 levels. They are recruited on open competition in each relevant institution to candidates holding a Ph.D. degree or any other equivalent degree.
The arrangements for the competitive recruitment of assistant professors are set by order of governmental authority responsible for higher education.
The Successful candidates are appointed assistant professors in the first step of grade A

FOCUS Bibliography
Ministry of National Education, Higher Education, the Professional Training and Scientific Research, Statistics 2006-2007 academic

Ministry of National Education, Higher Education, Training Frameworks and Search Scientific Vision and Research Strategy 2025. National Research System: Summary of Existing analysis. March 2006

Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research, scientific careers: an approach based on elements of European comparative analysis. Delegation of Research, French Republic in October 2004

Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research, the professors at the university: the role of women. Delegation of Research; French Republic. October 2000

Kleich, Mina and Waast Roland, Morocco Ed scientific Publisud Paris 2008

Kleich Mina, "Scientific Research in Morocco" in science in Africa in the early 21 th century, report for the European Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Directorate Roland Jacques Gaillard and Waast IRD France

Superior Council of Education, Atlas of the education system and training State and Perspective of the System of Education and Training. Annual Report 2008

Superior Council of Education, study craft teacher researcher. Report 2009

Barkalil N, R Naciri "educated women: innovative practices" Institute for Research and study population, with the support of FNUAP (United Nations Fund for Population Activities) Tunis in September 1994

Mellakh kamal "Women managers in the public service graduates in Morocco" In Women graduates Maghreb: access to employment to exercise responsibility, under the coordination of Mohamed Benguerna, notebooks of CERED (Research Center Applied Economics for Development), No. 74 20

Moroccan women in numbers. HCP. Rabat, Morocco. 2011.

Cover images refer to the scientific research of one of the women scientists presented in the issue's portraits.
Maysoon Zoubi chaired the technical joint Jordan, Israel and Palestine committee with World Bank to revitalize the Dead Sea through the Dead to Red conveyance pipe-line and desalination plant.

Fondazione IDIS – Città della Scienza, Naples (Italy)
Anne - Marie Bruyas, Pietro Greco, Michaela Riccio, Giulia D'Argenio, Flavia Zucco
Fondazione IDIS – Città della Scienza, Naples (Italy)
Attilio Iannitto, Gabriele Nosso