By Abdi Ali
Published June 7, 2016
The head of a science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials has received an award for empowering an unprivileged segment of women in Africa.
Professor Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of Executive Board and Family Board of E Merck KGaA received the African Alliances He for She Award for Women Empowerment in recognition of his company’s efforts to empower women in the field of research and healthcare and also for empowering infertile women in through the Merck More than a Mother campaign.
“I am very happy to receive this important award. The Merck More than a Mother campaign is a very important initiative to empower an unprivileged segment of women in Africa,” Prof Dr Frank Stangenberg–Haverkamp said upon receiving his award during the 11th African Congress for Women Entrepreneurs that took place in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. “Women who suffer infertility have been neglected, mistreated and discriminated against because they cannot bear children.”
Dr Amany Asfur, President of African Alliances of Women Empowerment, explained, “We are very proud to acknowledge Merck’s efforts to empower infertile women in Africa by improving their access to information, awareness, health and change of mindset through their historic Merck More than a Mother campaign.”
“Through the Merck more than a Mother campaign,” said Dr Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer of Merck Healthcare, “we started an important project called Empowering Berna that seeks to help infertile women, who cannot have children anymore, start their own businesses and build their independent and happier lives. I am very passionate about this project and I will follow it up by myself with women organizations across Africa.”
Presenters of the African Alliances He for She Award say their prize also recognises the UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit (MARS)’s new initiative to empower African women researchers. “The initiative,” they say, “is very critical for Africa’s future as the continent’s social and economic development cannot be achieved without the economic empowerment of women and youth.”
During the same conference, the African Women Empowerment Award was granted to Catherine Samba-Panza, former interim President of Central African Republic and Prof Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia, who was represented by Julia Duncan-Cassell, Liberian Minister for Gender and social affairs.
A panel of Merck More Than a Mother initiative featuring Sarah Opendi, Ugandan Minister for Health; Jean Kalilani, Malawian Minister for Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare; Julia Duncan-Cassell, Liberian Minister for Gender and Social Affairs; Dr Lanre Tejuoso, Nigerian Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health; Qedani Dorothy Mahlangu, Minister for Health for Gauteng Provincial Government in South Africa; and parliamentarians and academics from Uganda, Kenya, Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ivory Coast, discussed objectives of Merck More Than a Mother and intervention across Africa; they agreed to kick off the campaign in their respective countries in 2016 and 2017.
Merck, founded in 1668, is probably one of the oldest pharmaceutical and chemical companies in the world. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly-listed corporate group. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand except in United States of America and Canada where it operates as EMD Serono, EMD Millipore and EMD Performance Materials.
African Alliance for Women Empowerment was established in 2006 with the main objective of Empowering Women of Africa to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through economic, political and social empowerment.