People | Both sides

Uplifting Africa Through Women
SUPPORT FOR WOMEN. The President of the Women for Africa Foundation, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, along with several participants in the Ellas Investigan programme at a recent event in Barcelona.

The CLH Group collaborates with the Women for Africa Foundation to foster development on the continent through initiatives based on support and guidance for women.

At CLH, we believe in effective equality and make an effort to ensure women and men have the same opportunities. Our people management policy is oriented towards this objective by encouraging diversity, fair wages and the possibility of professional development. Likewise, we have specific plans and technical committees that supervise all of this.

This commitment also crosses our corporate borders to reach society as demonstrated by the framework collaboration agreement signed in December 2018 with the Women for Africa Foundation to develop projects in areas of common interest.

The Foundation is a private non-profit entity which since 2012, “has been working to contribute to the development of the African continent through support and guidance for its women who are the major drivers of progress,” explains the founder and President, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, former Vice-President of the Spanish Government.

For the foundation, “equality is the most powerful factor for social transformation”

The commitment held by Women for Africa to democracy, governance, peace, human rights and sustainable social development is turned into reality through more than 20 projects carried out each year in Spain and all the countries on the African continent focusing on four areas (knowledge, economic development, leadership and governance and healthcare). And it’s all done with equality in mind which is “the most powerful factor for social transformation” in the eyes of the Foundation.

For CLH, “the agreement is another opportunity to continue demonstrating that, with will and some effort, we can change the world - in this case by fostering development in Africa through women’s personal and professional growth,” says José Luis López de Silanes, Chairman of CLH.

Latifa Guesmi
PhD in Information Technologies and Telecommunications

“Support from companies like CLH is of great importance in helping female scientists develop their careers”

What inspired you to pursue a career in science?

I loved learning science from my primary school, and at the university I could not imagine a career that was not in science. I decided to focus on networks and telecommunications, the subject that I most enjoyed in my studies. I was lucky to have teachers that inspired me and really believed in my ability to excel as a scientist.

What motivated you to participate in the Visiting Senior Research Fellowships program?

Complex management is essential to dealing with today’s fastest standardized Ethernet rates with the increasing requirements for higher bandwidth. In order to study this, I needed to be able to perform experiments on my project in a well-equipped laboratory like the ones here at ICFO. That was my main motivation for participating in this fellowship program. This is a good opportunity for me to gain excellent laboratory experience which is good for my career.

Were there obstacles that you had to overcome to launch your career in science?

The most common problem that researchers face in launching their careers is the lack of support and funding programs, and also the absence of equipped research laboratories. I have been able to participate in some scientific training related to my research topics to confront this problem.

What issues remain in Tunisia to increase the impact of its scientists and how can programs like the Women for Africa Foundation help?

In its latest report "Women and Science", UNESCO ranked Tunisian women among the best in the world in terms of scientific research. Women for Africa Foundation is of great importance to help scientific women in Tunisia to pursue their careers in the best research centres at Spain.

What issue would you most like to see resolved for the next generation of women scientists in Tunisia?

More and more women are enrolling in university, but they are less likely to pursue a career in research. The problems are many: the stereotypes young girls face, the family responsibilities and prejudices that must be faced when choosing a career. I believe in women’s capacity to deal with all these issues and manage their time to succeed in scientific careers.

What are your first impressions of ICFO?

ICFO is a well-organized research centre where I found a team who work daily to anticipate and meet the needs of researchers. It offers a good environment to work and share ideas with many researchers from around the world.