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UNESCO and cosmetics company L'Oreal have launched an online forum called AGORA to highlight and support women's contribution towards scientific progress.

The partners already collaborate on a programme that awards annual prizes to female scientists on each continent (see Brazilian and Tunisian win 'Women in Science' awards).

Launched on 8 March, AGORA will focus on topics such as science education for girls and women, women of science and sustainable development, bioethics and diversity.

All Internet users are able to access and read forum entries, but only members of the partnership's 'Women in Science community' will be able to contribute to the website.

This community includes the UNESCO-L'Oreal prize judges, winners and nominators, as well as UNESCO staff and L'Oreal researchers.

The forum aims to strengthen ties among community members, and to provide a space for discussing crucial issues facing the world, says its managing editor Alfred Gannon.

Each quarter, AGORA will publish a series of themed articles — the first is on girls' and women's access to scientific education, and the next will focus on women's role in sustainable development.

Scientists from around the world are invited to join the community and use the forum to express their points of view, share experiences, and identify problems and solutions, Gannon told SciDev.Net.