Women as Forces for the Peaceful Use of Chemistry Reaffirmed at OPCW Symposium

16 May 2017
Participants at OPCW's Second Symposium on Women in Chemistry

Participants at OPCW’s Second Symposium on Women in Chemistry

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – 17 May 2017 – Women from various walks of professional life gathered together at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) Second Symposium on Women in Chemistry to discuss ways of advancing the contribution of women chemists as key stakeholders in the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

“Women play a vital role in chemistry and science, and must be empowered to reach their full potential, for the benefit of us all…the OPCW is honoured to provide an international platform for greater awareness and cooperation in this important area,” OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, stated when opening the Symposium on 2 May 2017 at OPCW Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands.


Under the overarching theme of women as a force for the peaceful uses of chemistry, discussions focused on the advancement of the role of women as prominent players in the scientific community, chemical industry, and other fields of chemistry. Over the course of the day, participants put forward ideas for promoting diversity, equal opportunity, capacity-building and cooperation; and prominent female role models shared experiences and advice to help colleagues advance in their careers.


The Symposium gathered over 50 participants from 40 OPCW Member States, including scientists, diplomats, academics, chemical industry representatives, and civil society activists.


Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cameroon to the OPCW and Chairperson to the Executive Council of the OPCW, H.E. Mrs Odette Melono, underlined the importance of forums like this one, that create opportunities for furthering the goals of gender equality and that empower women to advance the peaceful use of chemistry.


Former Member of the Dutch Parliament and former Chair of the Gender Multiparty Initiative, Ms Ingrid de Caluwé, reminded participants that their work as chemists is a crucial factor in endeavours to eliminate chemical weapons and achieve the goals of the CWC.


After the Symposium, seven participants attended a three-day analytical chemistry course at the OPCW’s Rijswijk Laboratory that covered analytical techniques applied to chemicals relevant to the Convention. 


As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently and verifiably eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – and with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.

To date, nearly 95 per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.

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