Dr. Fatima Laher


Dr. Fatima Laher

Dr. Fatima Laher, CRS Leader

Soweto-Bara CRS, Soweto, South Africa

Dr. Fatima Laher is a medical doctor, director of the Soweto-Bara Vaccines Research Centre, and co-chair of HVTN 100, 702, 120, the HVTN Protocol Committee, and the HVTN Training and Education Committee. Dr. Laher, the recipient of a Young Physician Leader award from the Inter Academy Medical Panel in 2012, recently spoke at a Young Women in Science event. With a focus on advising young people how to map their scientific careers, Dr. Laher asked attendees to consider how to address the current systemic imbalances in South African communities affecting women in the workplace. These disparities include leadership roles (more than two-thirds of leaders in South Africa are male), pay gaps (on average men earn more than women despite working fewer hours), and unpaid work (in which women bear the brunt of family/home duties and so-called office housework). Speaking out against the discrimination that young women experience in the health sector, she said, "The health sector needs men and also women: women as healers; women as advocates to speak for our own bodies; women to innovate solutions for health issues; women to lead. Science shows that gender roles are conditioned into us; they are not natural. Be strategic and infuse your life with action. Make your way in the scientific world; change the ground around you, and it will continue to change things for the next wave of women. We are the daughters of thunder."

(from left) Dr. Fatima Laher, Anusha Nana, Dr. Jenny Coetzee, Dr. Janan Dietrich (Co-Chair of the HVTN Sub-Saharan Africa Social and Behavioral Working Group) and Professor Glenda Gray (Co-PI of the HVTN and Director of HVTN Africa Programs) were amongst the mentors at the Young Women in Science event hosted by Dr. Dietrich and attended by young females aspiring to be scientists, including emerging HVTN researchers.