Merck

…..And empowering women in STEM in partnership with Africa’s First Ladies

ACCRA, Ghana, March 7, 2022/ — Merck Foundation marks international women day through their three programs “More Than a Mother”, “STEM Program for Women”, and “Educating Linda” in Africa and Asia; Merck Foundation “More than a Mother” and 20 Africa’s First Ladies, their ambassadors, mark together International Women’s Day through empowering women living with infertility through access to information, education, health, change of mindset and economic empowerment; Merck Foundation has also announced an annual MARS Awards to appreciate and recognize ‘Best African Women Researchers in their efforts to empower women in STEM.

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Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany together with 20 African First Ladies who are their Ambassadors, Ministries of Health, Education, Communication & Gender, mark ‘International Women’s Day 2022’ themed, ‘Break the Bias’, through their various programs and initiatives such as “More Than a Mother”, “STEM Program for Women”, and “Educating Linda” in Africa and Asia.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Most Influential African (2019, 2020 & 2021) said, “As I always say, empowering girls and women is part of our DNA, hence, for us at Merck Foundation, we mark International Women’s Day every day. Together with our ambassadors, African First Ladies, we work closely to empower women and girls through our programs including our “More Than a Mother” Campaign, “Educating Linda” program, Merck Foundation Capacity Advancement, and Merck Foundation STEM program”.

Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” campaign is a strong movement that aims to empower women living with Infertility through access to information, education, change of mind-set, and economic empowerment.

“Moreover, together with the Ministries of Health, Information, Education & Gender, Media & Art, Merck Foundation have provided more than 550 scholarships (out of total 1200 scholarships) to female doctors of one-year diploma and two-year master degree for critical and underserved specialties specially that is related to women health and reproductive health such as fertility specialty, embryology and sexual & reproductive care which are very important to transform women health in Africa and developing countries. Of course, this is in addition to; Oncology, diabetes, endocrinology, respiratory care, intensive care and many more.

To quantify our total efforts to transform access to better women health, I am proud that we have provided more than 370 scholarships to doctors (170 female and 202 male doctors ) from 39 countries, with the aim to advance women’s health by building Reproductive & Sexual care and Fertility Care Capacity in Africa and beyond”, Senator Rasha Kelej explained their impact.

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Merck Foundation also supports childless women by helping them start their own small businesses. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and support she deserves to lead a fulfilling life, with or without a child.

“Moreover, we also trained more than 2000 media representatives from more than 35 countries, to be the voice of the voiceless and raise community awareness around breaking infertility stigma around women and other critical issues such as: ending child marriage, stopping GBV, supporting girl education and women empowerment”, explained Senator, Dr. Rasha.

Merck Foundation in partnership with African First Ladies has also announced the new edition of their annual awards for Media, Fashion Designers, Filmmakers and Musicians/ Singers to participate in order to raise awareness through their creative work about critical social and health issues like Breaking Infertility Stigma, Support Girls’ Education, Ending Child Marriage, End FGM, Stopping GBV Women Empowerment at all levels.

“I strongly believe that media and Art play a critical role in creating a culture shift. I also believe that fashion and art should have a purpose beyond entertainment and looking good, hence these awards. I am also very excited to announce that we are continuing our efforts of raising awareness against such sensitive issues through Our African community of Art and Fashion with Purpose. We will soon be launching our special television program that will address all of these critical issues in a very interesting, attractive but beneficial way, so please stay tuned for it!”, stated Senator, Dr. Kelej.

Merck Foundation strongly believes that Education is one of the most critical areas of women’s empowerment. Through their ‘Educating Linda’ program, Merck Foundation together with African First Ladies has been supporting the education of some of the unprivileged but brilliant girls by providing scholarships and grants that can cover school fees, school uniforms, and other essentials including notebooks, pens and mathematical instruments, so they can reach their potential and pursue their dreams.

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Merck Foundation has also announced the MARS Awards to appreciate and recognize ‘Best African Women Researchers’ and ‘Best Young African Researcher’. The aim is to empower women and young African researchers, advance their research capacity and promote their contribution to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Merck Foundation strongly believes that Education is one of the most critical areas of women’s empowerment. Through their ‘Educating Linda’ program, Merck Foundation together with African First Ladies has been supporting the education of some of the unprivileged but brilliant girls by providing scholarships and grants that can cover school fees, school uniforms, and other essentials including notebooks, pens and mathematical instruments, so they can reach their potential and pursue their dreams.

Merck Foundation has also announced the MARS Awards to appreciate and recognize ‘Best African Women Researchers’ and ‘Best Young African Researcher’. The aim is to empower women and young African researchers, advance their research capacity and promote their contribution to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Also, Merck Foundation has released many inspiring children’s storybooks and over 25 songs on breaking infertility stigma, supporting girls’ education, and women empowerment, in English, French and Portuguese language. To listen to the Merck Foundation songs and read the Merck Foundation storybooks, please visit: https://bit.ly/3CmAqwM

Speaking about her message for all the women this International Women’s Day, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasized, “I would like to tell every woman to believe in herself and be confident at every step, in life. Passion, hard work, putting heart, soul & mind in everything is the success factor. Also, as I always emphasize, when you make it in life, do not forget to support other women around you”.

Join the conversation on our social media platforms below and let your voice be heard:
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Flicker: bit.ly/2Tay0Pu
Website: Merck-Foundation.com
Download the Merck Foundation App: bit.ly/3v7pf5Z

About ‘Merck Foundation More Than a Mother’ campaign:
“Merck Foundation More Than a Mother” is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets. This powerful campaign supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe, effective and equitable fertility care solutions.

It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention, management and male infertility. In partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information, Education & Gender, academia, policymakers, International fertility societies, media and art, the initiative also provides training for fertility specialists and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.

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With “Merck Foundation More Than a Mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility at all levels: By improving awareness, training local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.

The Ambassadors of “Merck Foundation More Than a Mother” are:

H.E. NEO JANE MASISI,
The First Lady of Botswana
 
H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia
 
H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia
 
H.E. ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of Burundi
 
H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana
 
H.E. AISHA BUHARI, The First Lady of Nigeria
 
H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic
 
H.E. CLAR WEAH, The First Lady of Liberia
 
H.E FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of Sierra Leone
 
H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo Brazzaville
 
H.E. MONICA CHAKWERA, The First Lady of Malawi
 
H.E. MUTINTA HICHILEMA, The First Lady of Zambia
 
H.E. DENISE NYAKERU TSHISEKEDI, THE First Lady of Democratic Republic of Congo
 
H.E. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique
 
H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of Zimbabwe
 
The Former First Lady of Burundi, H.E DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The Former First Lady of Chad, H.E. HINDA DÉBY ITNO, The Former First Lady of Malawi, H.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The Former First Lady of Niger, H.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU and The Former First Lady of Zambia, H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The Former First Lady of Guinea Conakry, H.E. CONDÉ DJENE have worked successfully with Merck Foundation as Merck Foundation More Than a Mother Ambassadors to break the stigma of infertility and empower infertile women in their countries.
 

Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck Foundation More than a Mother COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, such as.

  • ‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Africa Media Recognition Awards and Health Media Training
  • ‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Fashion Awards
  • ‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Film Awards
  • ‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Song Awards
  • Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it
  • Children storybook, localized for each country

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 Merck-Foundation.com to read more. To know more, reach out to our social media: Merck Foundation (Merck-Foundation.com); Facebook (bit.ly/32YFKpv), Twitter (bit.ly/2TeOQNj), Instagram(bit.ly/3g6OYr3) , YouTube (bit.ly/3zc3up1) and Flicker (bit.ly/2Tay0Pu).

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