In celebration of International Women’s Day, Marie- Luce Penchard, The Minister in charge of Overseas Territories, honoured Pascale Chabanet, in Paris on the 8th of March 2011. Pascale, a researcher at IRD was selected for the award by the Prefect of TAAF (Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises- French Southern and Antarctic Lands). The Minister received, in her office that day, outstanding women from all the overseas and ultramarine territories, who work to promote the dignity of women. International Women’s Day, which began one hundred years ago on March 8, 1911, is a day of global recognition of the economic, political and social contributions of women.
Speaking to IRD on her impending visit to Paris, Pascale Chabanet, a Coral Reef Ecology specialist had the following to say on her award :
8 March, International Women’s day, you will be received by the Minister in charge of Overseas Territories in your capacity as a marine scientist representing La Reunion and the Scattered Islands. What does this invitation mean to you ?
It is an honour for me to have been selected by the Prefect to be, in his words, ‘ an ambassedor for the Scattered Islands’. The Prefect was looking for a scientist therefore I see his choice as a recognition of my work not only in science but also in communication to raise awareness on these islands- through for example the 2004 film, ‘Juan de Nova, Coral Island’ directed by Rémy Tézier.
The invitation presents a great opportunity for me to talk about the creation of an observatory project/post in the scattered islands. (The Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean -Îles Éparses or Îles éparses de l’océan indien) consist of four small coral islands, an atoll, and a reef in the Indian Ocean, and constitute the 5th district of TAAF since February 2007. They have no permanent population. Three of the islands — the Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova and Europa — and the Bassas da India atoll lie in the Mozambique Channel west of Madagascar, while the fourth island, Tromelin, lies about 450 kilometres (280 mi) east of Madagascar. Also in the Mozambique Channel is the Banc du Geyser, a reef which was annexed by Madagascar in 1976. The Islands are classified as nature reserves). The natural environment in the scattered islands, scarcely touched by human pressure, make them ideal places for the observation of global change in tropical areas. The establishment of an observatory post, in addition to the scientific interest that this would generate, would result in permanent settlement/presence on these islands, that are currently occupied by the armed forces of the southern Indian Ocean (FAZOI),whose length of stay is undetermined.
As a female scientist in the overseas territorries, what would you want to see happen in them ? If you had one wish, what would it be ?
To speak more on coral reefs
Coral reefs are only found in the tropics. France,through its overseas territories, is the only country to have access to all the oceans where reefs thrive and is ranked 4th worldwide in the totality of areas covered by reefs. France therefore has a special responsibility towards the conservation coral reefs for ecological and socio-economic development that goes beyond mere postcards for tourists. It is thus our duty to talk about coral reefs
Improve on Science Communication
This is linked to the above, on speaking about corals. We must pass on information on coral reefs not only through writing scientific publications but also by transmitting this information to the general public, policy makers and especially to children. Conservation and protection of reefs does not happen through the passing of laws only. To conserve resources, we must love them and see them as a priority to us.
Use Science to eliminate the North-South Differences
This is what Associations like the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association are trying to achieve. WIOMSA aims for the development, promotion and dissemination of marine science in the southwestern Indian Ocean. This is also partly the objective of the IRD for the whole world.
Read the full interview from: http://www.ird.fr/toute-l-actualite/actualites/pascale-chabanet-honoree-pour-la-journee-de-la-femme-et-l-annee-des-outre-mer