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Merck Foundation Marks International Women's Day with African First Ladies - Our Journey to Empower Infertile Women and Support Girl Education

08.03.2023 - 08:02:50

Business Wire India

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation with infertile women during her visit to Uganda
Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation with infertile women during her visit to Uganda

  • From Women to Women - since 2012 Merck Foundation marks International Women's Day 2023 through 10-year journey of programs “More Than a Mother”, “Educating Linda”, “Merck Foundation Capacity Advancement” and “STEM Program” in Africa and beyond.
  • From Women to Women, Merck Foundation empowers African Women through providing 650 medical scholarships to female doctors out of 1470 scholarships in many critical and underserved medical specialties. 10-year journey of empowering women in science to improving Women’s health.
  • Merck Foundation supports girl education through their “Educating Linda” program by providing scholarships and school items to 1000’s of girls in African countries. “Girl education now for future women empowerment” emphasized by Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck foundation.
  • Merck Foundation annually announces MARS Awards to appreciate and to recognize ‘Best African Women Researchers’ to empower women in STEM. MARS Awards 2023 have been announced to empower Women and Youth in STEM in Africa with special focus on scientific research in Women's Health and Infertility & Reproductive Health.
?Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany together with African First Ladies who are their Ambassadors, Ministries of Health, Education, Communication & Gender, mark ‘International Women’s Day 2023’, through their 10-year journey of development programs and initiatives such as “More Than a Mother”, “Educating Linda”, “Merck Foundation Capacity Advancement” and “STEM Program” in Africa and beyond.

Senator, Dr Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Most Influential African (2019, 2020, 2021 & 2022) shared, "Happy Women’s Day to all the women in the world and to the men who support and empower women. Empowering women is the spirit of everything we do at Merck Foundation, and it is part of my DNA as an African woman who succeeded through the right support to be CEO of Merck Foundation, to be the most influential African woman in the world for four years in a row, and to be a senator in the Egyptian Senate. Therefore, I understand that women have tremendous potential to excel in any field they represent, but they are deprived of a favorable environment to explore their true potential in many societies, especially in underserved communities. I believe there is a need to redefine the status of women in society.

We at Merck Foundation, through all our key programs like “More Than a Mother”, “Educating Linda”, “Merck Foundation Capacity Advancement” and “STEM Program”, mark Women’s Day every day by supporting girl education and empowering girls and women. It is our 10-year journey and we are proud of it.”

"Merck Foundation More Than a Mother" is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile and childless women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets.

“Together with our partners; African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information, Education & Gender, Media & Art, we have provided more than 650 out of 1470 scholarships to female doctors in 50 countries which is a great achievement for us. I am particularly proud that we have provided 435 scholarships to doctors from 50 countries with the aim to advance women's health by building reproductive & sexual health and fertility care capacity.

Moreover, we have trained over 2200 media representatives from over 35 countries, to raise awareness and address sensitive issues related to women and girl’s empowerment. We created the Merck Foundation's unique TV program, "Our Africa," to sensitize our communities about various social and health issues in an informative and entertaining way. Moreover, we also launched media, fashion, song, and film awards, created 30 local songs and 8 children’s storybooks, provided grants to hundreds for African schoolgirls to continue their education. We will continue our efforts to empower girls and women through our social media campaign with 5 million followers,” Senator Rasha Kelej explained their impact.

Merck Foundation also empowers women in the areas of Science and Technology through their STEM Program.

Merck foundation annually conduct Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit- MARS and launch MARS Awards to appreciate and recognize ‘Best African Women Researchers’ and 'Best Young African Researcher’.

“Our aim is to empower women and also young African researchers, advance their research capacity and promote their contribution to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

This year’s focus of MARS Awards is on scientific research in Women Health and Reproductive Care,” emphasized Dr. Kelej.

Merck Foundation strongly believes that Education is one of the most critical areas of women empowerment.

Together with African First Ladies, they have contributed to the future of 100’s of girls by providing grants to continue their education and providing essential school items, through “Educating Linda” program in many African countries such as Burundi, Malawi, Ghana, The Gambia, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger and more.

“Girl education today for women empowerment tomorrow”, emphasized Senator Kelej.

Through their “Our Africa” TV program, Merck Foundation has sensitized communities about various social and health issues like Women Empowerment, Breaking Infertility Stigma, Ending Child Marriage, Stopping GBV, Ending FGM, and Supporting Girl Education in an informative and entertaining way. The The TV program has been broadcasted on National TV Stations of Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and soon to be also broadcast in The Gambia, Ghana Kenya, and Botswana.

Watch “Our Africa by Merck Foundation” episode on Women Empowerment here:
Watch “Our Africa by Merck Foundation” episodes on Ending Child Marriage & Supporting Girl Education here:
Merck Foundation in partnership with African First Ladies has also announced the new edition of their annual awards for Media, Fashion Designers, Filmmakers and Musicians/ Singers to participate in order to raise awareness through their creative work about critical social and health issues like Breaking Infertility Stigma, Support Girls’ Education, Ending Child Marriage, End FGM, Stopping GBV, Women Empowerment at all levels.

“I invite all African talents to apply for these awards at”, said Dr Kelej. 

Listen to Merck Foundation song here:
  1. Watch, share & subscribe to the “Superwoman” song here, sung by two famous singers, Cwezi and Adina from Ghana respectively:
  2. Watch, share & subscribe to the “Girl Can” song here, sung by two famous singers, Irene and Cwezi from Liberia and Ghana respectively:
  3. Watch, share & subscribe the “Like Them” song here, sung by Kenneth, a famous singer from Uganda:
  4. Watch, share & subscribe “Take me to School” song here, sung by Wezi, Afro-soul singer from Zambia, to support girls’ education:
  5. Watch share & subscribe “Tu Podes Sim” Portuguese song, which means “Yes, You Can” in English by Blaze and Tamyris Moiane, singers from Mozambique in English here:
  6. Watch, share & subscribe “Brighter day” song by Sean K and Cwesi Oteng from Namibia and Ghana respectively:
Read the Merck Foundation storybook:
  1. To read Educating Linda Storybook, pls visit:
  2. To read Jackline’s Rescue Storybook, pls visit:
  3. To read Ride into the Future Storybook, pls visit:
  4. To read Not Who You Are Storybook, pls visit:
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About Merck Foundation
The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.  Please visit to read more. Follow the social media of Merck Foundation: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Flickr.