Mauritius: A woman scientist designated President

On Monday June 1st, Prof. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim was designated President of the Republic of Mauritius, making her the first woman to hold the ceremonial position. DiscovHER proudly congratulates Prof. Gurib-Fakim, who proves that women in science can also reach the world’s top political echelons!

Born in a humble Mauritian family, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim’s mother was a housewife, and her father was a primary school teacher: 

My love for plants - I owe it to my parents. My curiosity in the Sciences has been kindled by my school teachers to whom I am grateful and thankful. Much later my university lecturers taught me that there should be no compromise on hard work and always strive for excellence.

After studying in the UK, at Surrey University and at the University of Exeter, she obtained her doctorate in organic chemistry in 1987. Following her return to Mauritius, she decided to focus her research on natural product chemistry. Today, Prof. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is known for having done the first full inventory of Mauritius and Rodriguez Island’s aromatic and medicinal plants. In her own words: 

The goal of my research is to produce safe plant-based medicines to combat everyday ailments like diarrhoea, dysentery, or infectious illnesses, and to help children who are suffering here in Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean region, and also in Africa.

Prof. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is currently the Managing Director of Mauritius’ Phytotherapy Research Centre (CEPHYR), which carries out research on plants for use in cosmetics, nutrition and therapy. 

The decision of making her President of Mauritius will be validated this Thursday by the country’s National Assembly, and she is set to take her oath on Friday.

Prof. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is an exceptional role model for women in science around the world, and living proof that perseverance and hard work can lead to success! Congratulate Prof. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim on Twitter @aguribfakim! #womeninscience

Prof. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim won the 2007 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award for Africa and the Arab States, for her exploration and analysis of plants from Mauritius and their bio-medical applications.  

For Women in Science

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