SWAN Newsletter

SWAN Image

As women’s empowerment and impact in societies around the world increase, it becomes imperative to elevate and champion their academic roles and influence within communities. Recognizing this necessity, the German-Syrian Research Society founded the “Syrian Women’s Academic Network (SWAN)” as a socio-academic forum that opens the door for Syrian women to excel in the world of scientific research and academic studies.


About the Network


SWAN is a social-academic network that brings together Syrian academics from various scientific and literary fields. The network’s objective is to build a cooperative and constructive Syrian women’s alliance where members regularly meet to exchange ideas, knowledge, and experiences with the aim of empowering Syrian women and enhancing their role in the Syrian academic community. The network engages in discussions on various challenges faced by female researchers in academia, sheds light on both individual and collective obstacles, analyzes weaknesses and critical issues, and endeavors to tackle challenges related to motherhood and achieving a balance between professional and personal life. Furthermore, the network strives to raise awareness about women’s roles in the field of science and make meaningful contributions towards closing the gender gap in contemporary academic environments, both globally and specifically in Syria.


The network embraces openness to experiences within a framework of diversity and continuity, and includes 165 female academic researchers of Syrian origin residing in various countries around the world, with the following proportions: 64% in Syria, 20% in Germany, and 16% in other countries including Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, France, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Britain, Canada, Hungary, Turkey, and Slovakia. This enhances cultural exchange among them and enriches their motivation.


Network Activities


Meet Odette

Odette has long been revered as a symbol of strength, inspiration, courage, and determination. One of the primary initiatives of the Syrian Women’s Academic Network at the German-Syrian Research Society is “Meet Odette” . This project is centered on documenting the inspiring narratives of Syrian and Arab female researchers and academics through virtual interviews attended by network members. It delves into the origins of their inspirational journeys, the challenges they encountered, their accomplishments, and the messages they have for their fellow academics.


“Nothing is impossible; with belief in ourselves, we will undoubtedly achieve our goals.”

This resonant message was conveyed by Odette in the inaugural meeting of this year’s “Meet Odette,” from the Syrian postdoctoral researcher specializing in cancer, inflammation, and immunology research at the University of Cologne Hospital, Dr. Mila Daoud.

The session brimmed with energy, passion, and a thirst for new knowledge. Members were eager to glean insights from Odette, understand how her experiences could enrich them, and ascertain what wisdom she could impart.

Dr. Mila led the audience through an introductory journey into her own story, starting her academic career in pharmacy in Syria and eventually securing the “Leadership for Syria” scholarship from DAAD. She recounted the challenges and hurdles she faced during that period, not anticipating a high likelihood of receiving the scholarship, which ultimately led her to relocate to Germany. She shared her experiences of acclimatizing to life in Germany, navigating language barriers, and progressing through her academic journey by earning a master’s degree in biomedical sciences from the University of Bonn-Rhein-Sieg before completing a doctoral program in biology – melanoma at the University of Cologne. Dr. Mila underscored that our latent abilities and the effort we invest will surely yield results; the key is to have faith in ourselves and persist in learning and working towards our aspirations.

What left an enduring impact on participants was Dr. Mila’s composure, kindness, and humility. She firmly believes that her achievements are within reach for anyone through dedication, self-belief, and a commitment to continuous learning. Throughout the approximately two-and-a-half-hour meeting attended by around twenty network members, Dr. Mila encouraged participants to persevere on their respective journeys and not succumb to challenges. She shared anecdotes from her involvement in various competitions and programs that brought together international participants from diverse backgrounds, many of whom had more favorable circumstances for success. Nonetheless, this did not deter her, and she successfully achieved her objectives.

“In all previous meetings with Odette, and specifically in this meeting, we found that we already possess a lot of skills and abilities. We must have confidence in them, work hard to develop ourselves, and equip ourselves with what is necessary to achieve our goals and have the ability to learn new things. This is what will lead us to success.”

This was the message conveyed by SWAN and unanimously agreed upon by the attendees in this meeting with Odette. Ellen Hillal, the director of the Syrian Women’s Academic Network (SWAN), highlighted the significance of continuous learning and the capacity to acquire new knowledge. She emphasized that despite any apprehensions about conducting academic research abroad or facing differences in research methodologies, the key is to focus on the value of the acquired knowledge. By embracing the ability to learn new things, individuals can refine their existing skills and ultimately develop the competencies required for their academic journey.


Bushra Youssef, the executive coordinator of the network, shared, “SWAN has greatly enriched my journey since its inception. Through every network activity, especially in this meeting, I have found the motivation to persevere even during the most challenging moments. Simply being present and engaging with individuals who share similar aspirations and circumstances has eased my path, installing me with patience and hope to navigate through my academic journey despite its obstacles.”

Here’s the refined continuation and conclusion of the Syrian Women’s Academic Network (SWAN) report, with grammatical and stylistic corrections:

SWAN has greatly enriched my journey since its inception. Through every network activity, especially in this meeting, I have found the motivation to persevere, even during the most challenging moments. Simply being present and engaging with individuals who share similar aspirations and circumstances has eased my path, instilling in me patience and hope to navigate through my academic journey despite its obstacles.”

During the meeting, attendees posed various questions to Dr. Mila, touching upon her scientific field and academic research journey. They expressed gratitude to her for enriching the gathering with her insights and providing them with motivation, which left a lasting impression on them.



Additional Information

-About upcoming activities and membership requests can be obtained from previous “NEWSLETTER” or directly from the team’s website or team members, if needed-


“PENs Jour Fix”

One of the network’s primary regular events is the “PENs Jour Fixe” , a recurring meeting for members to maintain communication, provide support to each other, and discuss various academic and social issues. The next “PENs Jour Fix” meeting will be held soon (currently no sufficient information is available, the team is in the process of determining the date, and upon agreement and providing me with the topic and date, the report can be updated, the initial date for its convening is after Eid al-Fitr).


About Membership

Dear, if you are an academic researcher or interested in scientific research, the “Syrian Academic Women’s Network” provides a supportive and safe environment for you to connect with your peers in academic and scientific fields.


Membership Requirements

– Passion for science and scientific research: Applicants must have a strong passion for learning and scientific discovery regardless of their current academic qualifications.

– Experience over age: Emphasis is placed on experiences and contributions in academic and research fields rather than age.

– Collaboration and encouragement: Network members should be willing to collaborate, provide support and encouragement to each other, exchange knowledge and experiences effectively.

– Excellence and innovation: Members are encouraged to be creative and innovative in their fields, providing unique value to the research and scientific community.

– Equality and diversity: Respect for and encouragement of cultural and academic diversity, the association should be accessible to all Syrian researchers regardless of their backgrounds or social positions.

– Social responsibility: Must be willing to address social issues, participate in community development, and contribute to solving social problems through their academic fields.

– Effective communication: Must be able to communicate effectively within the network or with the wider scientific community, disseminating their ideas and research effectively.

– Commitment to the association’s goals: Commitment to the association’s goals and vision with a genuine desire to achieve academic and research progress for Syrian researchers.


To apply for membership in the “Syrian Academic Women’s Network” or for inquiries, you can contact us through social media or via email at swan@ds-fg.com.


Together we can make our gentle yet determined voices heard around the world , join here as a ‘PEN’ (Network Member) by registering and participating in our “PENs Jour Fixe” meetings.


For information on how to benefit from our activities, you can inquire via email at swan@ds-fg.com.


In addition to regular exchanges with network members, you have the opportunity to meet an inspiring Syrian woman through participation in the upcoming “Meet Odette” event. The exchange of ideas and challenges will provide you with many solutions and empower you to achieve your academic goals with precision and determination.

Join us and let us get to know the next ‘Odette’ .