Panel of speakers for Conversation 1: Women in Science for Water and Society: Bridging Voices to Action (Source: RASIT official Twitter account)

In celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT) and 15 Member States including the Philippines, co-organized the 7th International Day of Women & Girls in Science Assembly, a virtual gathering of women and experts in science, technology, and innovation (STI) from around the world.

The celebration carrying the theme “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Water Unites Us” highlights the role of women and girls in science in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (clean water and sanitation) and addressing water-related challenges that beset society. It took place on February 11, 2022, in a virtual format from the UN Headquarters in New York.

Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay as she talks about the water situation in MIMAROPA Region and the STI interventions provided by DOST-MIMAROPA

DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Director, Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay was among the invited expert panels in the assembly, representing the Philippines in the panel conversation entitled “Women in Science for Water and Society: Bridging Voices to Action”. The conversation brought together renowned female scientists and experts from different disciplines and discussed water challenges from various angles including best practices, strategies, applied solutions, and experiences toward achieving sustainable water across the globe.

In her talk, Dr. Abilay shared the plight of geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) in MIMAROPA and their struggle for clean water. She included real-life stories of residents in far-flung communities who travel more than 13 kilometers using motorcycles and tricycles to fetch water or people walking distances, sometimes for half a day for their water needs. 

Dr. Abilay also underscored the important role of STI in helping address the water situation in MIMAROPA.  She discussed DOST-MIMAROPA’s initiatives to provide equal, diverse, and inclusive opportunities to communities without or limited access to water. Particularly, Dr. Abilay highlighted 11 projects implemented in MIMAROPA that provided technologies such as units of solar-powered water pumping system with treatment facility, water pumping systems, water purification systems, rainwater collector with filtration systems, water filtration systems, and water desalination technology, to waterless communities in the region.

Map of Water Technologies provided and to be provided in the MIMAROPA Region

According to Dr. Abilay, these STI water interventions have benefitted 1,835 households (>9,000 persons) from diverse sectors such as women and indigenous peoples.  In addition, the technologies are said to enable communities to save around 500,000 pesos (US$ 9,800) of water and transportation costs per month which can be used for other important things such as food, decrease incidence of water-borne diseases among children, and allowed children, women, and family members spend more time to more significant activities like education, livelihood, and parenting.

Likewise, the interventions promoted inclusivity especially among members of the indigenous peoples as it paved the way for them to access water and live normally as part of the rest of the society, said Dr. Abilay.

Dr. Abilay was joined by esteemed speakers from UNESCO and from various institutions in Portugal, Slovenia, Poland, Slovakia, Israel, Portugal, Rwanda, Argentina, Korea, and USA, among others

The assembly coincides with the global celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science every February 11 as declared by the United Nations.