Women Breakthrough Award 2023

Excellence in research contributing to gender equality and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

An initiative of Falling Walls Female Science Talents and the Elsevier Foundation in 2023, the Women Breakthrough Award distinguishes three women scientists each year who conduct visionary research while also engaging with issues of gender equity and equality in science.

With the Women Breakthrough Award, we look for (self-identifying) women from science, conducting a research project in one of the fields related to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We seek exceptional talents who conduct interdisciplinary, groundbreaking research in their field and contribute to gender equality and diversity in science and academia. The Women Breakthrough Award consists of the three sub-categories “Innovation”, “Gender Mainstreaming” and “Empowerment”. While rewarding excellence in women-led research, it also establishes the awardees as role models for the global community of women scientists.




The Power of Black Soldier Fly for Bioconversion and Feed Production, Atinuke Chineme, University of Calgary, and Marwa Shumo, Center for Development Research (ZEF) & University of Bonn.

Atinuke Chineme and Marwa Shumo jointly introduced a pilot project that incorporates black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) into circular economy models for biowaste conversion and animal feed production. The project aims at empowering underprivileged communities and women across Sub-Saharan Africa, while contributing to waste recycling, food security, sustainability and climate change mitigation. Marwa is also an Intensive Track Champion 2022.

Gender Mainstreaming Category

AI to Identify Gender Bias in School Textbooks, Sudeshna Das, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur.

Sudeshna Das has pioneered an AI-driven framework designed to identify gender biased text in school textbooks aimed at reducing the harmful effects of gender biased discourse on children. Analysing textbooks from India, Bangladesh, South Africa, and the USA, this initiative holds promise for worldwide implementation.


A Culturally Sensitive Model for Intimate Care Facilitation in Nursing Care, Simangele Shakwane, University of South Africa.

Simangele Shakwane has developed an innovative model for facilitating intimate care in nursing education through humanistic simulation techniques and culturally sensitive approaches, to ensure inclusive and equitable nursing practices. Currently, the model is undergoing active implementation and evaluation in Nursing Education Institutions in South Africa.

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