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Celebrating International Women’s Day: AWARD Director, Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg

"I get hugely excited every time the International Women Day comes around.  It’s the one day the world takes stock of its women and women take stock of themselves and more importantly, the world and women celebrate women. 

This year is no different for me.  I’m taking stock of the work that AWARD is doing in trying to elevate the status of African women agricultural research scientists. Our work seems amplified by this year’s theme, “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. Our commitment to see more women take their place in research labs, at policy debates, and across the agricultural sector is unwavering.

We are particularly focused on working to deepen our relationships with a wide variety of partners.  We’ve started at ‘home’ so to speak. This year we’ve partnered with our hosts, the World Agroforestry Centre, in holding a series of events that commemorate this year’s International Women’s’ Day. We recently co-hosted, for the ICRAF staff, the screening of a documentary on the first African female Nobel Laureate, the late Professor Wangari Muta Maathai.  ‘Taking Root’ traces the life journey of Prof. Maathai, a woman of many firsts and an agricultural scientist too! 

Prof Maathai used her love for the environment to champion causes that were close to her heart and to challenge unjust systems in society. Her tools, besides her steely determination and relentless drive, were trees. She drew from mother earth to make this nation and our plant a better place. The AWARD team and I remember, honor, and celebrate her legacy on this special day. 

Join me, as we celebrate a day that offers opportunity to glean from amazing women like Professor Maathai.  We look to her legacy as we pursue gender parity in the lab, on the farm, in the markets, in the boardroom, and in all areas of decision making across the African continent.

This is day that must be celebrated and celebrated loudly, not just by the women, but by all, because it also accords us the moment to stop, reflect and react on how best to get the world’s largest minority group a better place at the global table."

A message from AWARD's Director, Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg.