Merck Foundation Marks International Day of Girls Women in Science Through Their STEM Program


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Merck Foundation Marks International Day of Girls & Women in Science Through Their STEM Program

  • Monday, February 12, 2024 10:52AM IST (5:22AM GMT)
Cape Town, South Africa & Mumbai, Maharashtra, India:  
  • Merck Foundation provided 780 scholarships to women doctors to empower women in science - International Day of Girls & Women in Science.
  • Merck Foundation launches the “MARS Best African Woman Researchers Awards” annually to empower and recognize women in science. In 2023, 6 Researchers from 6 different African Countries awarded in two categories - Best African Women Researchers and Best African young Researchers.
  • Merck Foundation empowers African Women in the areas of Science and Technology through providing 780 scholarships to female doctors out of the total 1700 scholarships which represents 46% of Merck Foundation Alumni.
  • Merck Foundation also announced the Call for Applications for Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit – MARS Awards 2024 to empower Women and Youth in STEM in Africa with special focus on scientific research in Women Health and Infertility & Reproductive Health.

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, marks ‘International Day of Girls and Women in Science 2024’ together with African First Ladies, and their partners like African Ministries of Health, Education, Gender & Information and Academia.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “We at Merck Foundation mark ‘International Day of Girls and Women in Science 2024’ by supporting and empowering women in the areas of Science and Technology. Despite the significant strides women have made in their careers, there remains a notable under representation in these areas. We aim to narrow the gender inequality gap and empower women to participate equally in these areas of science and technology.”

Merck Foundation annually launches their MARS Awards to encourage and recognize ‘Best African Women Researchers’ and 'Best Young African Researcher’. The aim of MARS Awards is to empower women and young African researchers, advance their research capacity and promote their contribution to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). MARS Awards 2024 have been announced recently in partnership with African Union Scientific Technical Research Commission, International Federation of Fertility Societies -IFFS, Africa Reproductive Care Society - ARCS, and Manipal University, India., with a special focus on: ‘The Role of Scientific Research in Women Health and Reproductive & Fertility Care’.
Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej further emphasized, “In partnership with my dear sisters, African First Ladies, we have been transforming the patient care landscape in Africa by providing medical training to young doctors in many critical medical specialties. Out of the total 1700 scholarships provided, more than 780 scholarships were for women medical graduates. This is close to 45% of the total Merck Foundation Alumni, which is a great milestone for us.”

Merck Foundation also announced the Call for Applications for their prestigious Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit (MARS) Awards 2024.

Watch Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit MARS 2023 Award Ceremony video here:

Merck Foundation strongly believes that Education is one of the most critical areas of women empowerment and serves as the base and key factor in driving an impactful change.

“Together with African First Ladies, we have has contributed to the future of 425 of girls by providing scholarships to continue their education and also providing essential school items for thousands of school girls through our “Educating Linda” program in many African countries such as Burundi, Malawi, Ghana, The Gambia, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger and more.

Moreover, we have benefitted 1000’s of girls through our awareness campaign which includes releasing many inspiring children’s storybooks, animation films and songs to support girl education and end child marriage,” shared Senator Kelej.

Additionally, Merck Foundation is adapting their storybooks to create interesting animation films with the purpose of reaching out to the communities to raise awareness on the important supporting girl education and ending child marriage. Watch Ride into the Future Animation Film here:

"We also launch annually Awards of best Media work, Film, Song and Fashion Designs to Support Girl Education and raise awareness on other sensitive social issues,” added Senator Kelej.

Moreover, through their “Our Africa” TV program, Merck Foundation emphasized on the importance supporting girl education through many episodes and has dedicated 3 episodes out of the 15 episodes to this topic. The pan African TV program is conceptualized, produced, directed, and co-hosted by Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation. The TV program has been broadcasted on National TV Stations of Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and many other countries.

Watch the one of Episode of “Our Africa by Merck Foundation” TV program on Supporting Girl Education:
 Merck Foundation has also released many inspiring songs with African Artists to support girl education.
  1. Watch, share & subscribe “Girls Can” song here, sing by Cwesi Oteng from Ghana and Irene Logan from Liberia:
  2. Watch, share & subscribe the “Like Them” song here, sung by Kenneth, a famous singer from Uganda:
  3. Watch, share & subscribe “Take me to School” song here, sung by Wezi, Afro-soul singer from Zambia, to support girls’ education:
  4. Watch share & subscribe “Tu Podes Sim” Portuguese song, which means “Yes, You Can” in English by Blaze and Tamyris Moiane, singers from Mozambique in English here:
  5. Watch, share & subscribe “ABC, 123” by Sean K from Namibia song here:
  6. Watch, share & subscribe “Brighter day” song by Sean K and Cwesi Oteng from Namibia and Ghana respectively:
Merck Foundation has also introduced and launched interesting storybooks for children to underline the importance of girls’ education and enable them to reach their potential in STEM. The storybooks are available in three languages: English, French and Portuguese.
Details for MARS AWARDS 2024

Abstracts are invited from final year PhD students, young investigators involved in research and Medical Doctors in Postgraduate Medical Fellowship program related to either of the following topics:

1) Women Health

2) Infertility and Reproductive Care

Applicants should be primarily based at African Research Institutes and Universities, although collaboration within Africa as well as outside is also welcome.

Last Date of Submission: Applications can be submitted till 30th June 2024
How to apply:

Apply online here:

Alternatively, Applications and abstracts can be submitted via email to [email protected] along with CV (including Name, Gender, Country, University/Hospital Name, Email address, Mobile Number) and the abstract document as an attachment.

Entries are invited under the below categories:
  • Best African Women Researchers
  • Best African Young Researcher
The Winners receive a 3-month Research Training scholarship in India. 

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About Merck Foundation
The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website. Please visit to read more. Follow the social media of Merck Foundation: FacebookTwitter, InstagramYouTube and Flickr.
Click here for Media Contact Details

Mehak Handa (Community Awareness Program Manager), Merck Foundation, [email protected], +91-9310087613, 91-9319606669

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