For 100 days until mid-October, Hanover is hosting a unique experiment - the first International Women's University, comprising hundreds of academics and students from 115 countries.
Set up as a model project during the city's Expo 2000, the university's motto, "100 days for 100 years" is promoting the idea that women have to make up for their low-profile presence in academia.
In Germany just 10 per cent of professorships are held by women. Edelgard Bulmahn, federal minister of education and research and founder member of the university, said she hoped "to reach 20 per cent by the year 2005". The ministry has granted e3 million (Pounds 1.8 million) to the university.
The course programme, which is taught in English, is split into six project areas: body, city, information, migration, water and work.
Some 60 per cent of the participants, who must possess at least a bachelor's degree, are from developing countries. One, Stephanie Faculo, a regional planner from the Philippines, said:"Where I come from people do not have enough to eat and jobs are rare. Gender matters do not seem of immediate concern." But her initial doubts have been conquered by a feeling that a women's network will encourage female scientists to rethink traditional structures and tackle issues of global concern.
Further projects are being discussed, including a one-year masters programme.