Acceptance to the Swiss pilot mentoring program for women (2022-2023)

Our president and founder was accepted to be part of the 14-month pilot mentoring programme for ‘r4d’ women from the Global South. This pilot program was developed in conjunction among the Interdisciplinary Center for Gender Studies (ICFG) at the University of Bern, The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) and the Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development (r4d programme).

The pilot program was launched in 2022 and aims to provide mentoring opportunities to women from the Global South who are finalizing their PhDs or in their early postdoctoral phase. A total of 10 women residing in Ghana, Czech Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, South Africa, Bolivia, and Colombia were selected to participate in this pilot mentoring program. As stated in the call for applications (2022), through this program, participants will have “the opportunity to establish trusting relationships with mentors who have worked their way up in a given field, as well as to receive support along their career path and in developing critical skills”.

A series of online workshops have been conducted since December 2022 to build trust and sisterhood among the participants and the program leaders. The latter are Dr. Christine Bigler, Dr. Sony KC, la Dr. Tina Büchler and Prof. em. Margo Okazawa-Rey (see here ). Each of the mentees will receive support of a women mentor that will be selected by the r4d Programme. The program leaders are in the process of searching for mentors to accompany the mentees during the next months. To complement the mentorship, a three-day face-to-face training workshop will be held in Bern, Switzerland in April 2023.

The participation of IMEK’s president in this pilot program will benefit our organization by building her skills, expanding our networks, and identifying opportunities for sustainable growth. We are grateful to the Swiss institutions and citizens for investing on the development of women researchers from the Global South.

Background: The idea to create a program for early-career women researchers from the Global South emerged from findings of a needs assessment carried out in 2022 during a webinar series entitled: “Postdoc Event Series: Challenges and Enablers of Female Postdoc Researchers in the Global South”. These webinars and the pilot program advance gender equality, a key area of focus of both the SNF and the r4d Programme.

More information about the pilot program is available here.

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Stephanie Aya Pastrana, MSc
Adherent Member


Stephanie is an architect from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali with a master’s degree in Urban Strategies and Design from the University of Edinburgh. She has professional experience in the design and development of architectural projects of different scales, also developing research projects related to the quality of public spaces in Cali (Colombia) and sustainable construction. She currently works as a consultant and full-time professor at the Faculty of Creation and Habitat of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali.