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MozAWARD undraped! AWARD welcomes another country chapter

MozAWARD undraped! AWARD welcomes another country chapter

“Because women, especially in rural areas, are afraid of expressing their opinion on how to improve agricultural production for fear of questioning the authority of men, half of agricultural workers’ input and perspectives are omitted from the development of the agricultural sector in Mozambique”. Olivia Pedro, lecturer and researcher at Eduardo Mondlane University

That is why we need to support and orient women and young people in the field of agricultural sciences as well as to promote dialogue among women scientists, improve visibility and support institutional leadership with a gendered lens. Continued Pedro. Pedro was speaking at the launch of the Mozambican Women in Agricultural Research and Development (MozAWARD), a country chapter of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). The event took place on March 16, 2018, at the Pedagogical Complex - Eduardo Mondlane University Campus Maputo. MozAWARD aims to contribute to capacitate and empowerment of women in science, technology and agricultural development.

Olívia Pedro, a 2014 AWARD Fellow, and the coordinator of MozAWARD, noted that MozAWARD has kicked off with a membership of 57 professionals drawn from research institutes, learning institutions and development organizations in Mozambique.

She also noted that membership for MozAWARD is open to both women and men with an interest in supporting agricultural initiatives, gender, research and development agenda.

The launch was attended by 60 participants from 25 institutions among them Prof. Dr. Lega Hugo, Mozambique Vice-Minister of Science and Technology, Higher Education and Professional Technician; Prof. Doctor Amália Uamusse, Vice Academic Dean at Eduardo Mondlane University; Dr. Jennifer Adams, Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Mozambique; Dr. Victória Langa, Executive Director of the Mozambique National Research Fund; and Dr. Albertina Alage from Institute of Agricultural Research of Mozambique (IIAM).

Speaking at the launch, AWARD’s Deputy Director Programs, Dr. Michèle Mbo’o-Tchouawou, expressed her excitement at the expansion of the AWARD Fellowship into a pan-African initiative, with the current cohort of AWARD Fellows comprising 28 scientists drawn from eight francophone and four anglophone African countries, as well as from Spain, Fiji and Bangladesh. She said that as part of its focus on sustainable outcomes, AWARD is moving towards a more holistic approach of capacity building and investing in the environment within which these individuals operate. In making this investment, AWARD is enabling the empowerment of female agricultural researchers into systemic transformation of African agricultural research and innovation.

Deputy Director of the USAID Mission in Mozambique Dr. Sheryl Stumbras, emphasized the importance of having more women in agricultural science, because homogeneity in research and development limits the various angles and perspectives that can be considered in research, thus stifling innovation.

“Stifled innovation leads to stifled progress and economic growth.  Bringing gender diversity to the field of agriculture science will increase the possibility for innovative solutions to new challenges in the field,” she added. 

Dr. Albertina Alage, representing the IIAM Director General, said that the goal of the Mozambique Ministry of Agriculture is to increase production and productivity, and use research in an effective manner. She asked MozAWARD to be at the forefront of this initiative to ensure this goal is achieved, given the diversity of MozAWARD members and their large potential impact.  Dr. Alage acknowledged the visibility and opportunity Mozambican women have gained in the development of their careers through the AWARD Fellowships program.

Out of the 465 women awarded the AWARD Fellowship to date, 25 are Mozambican scientists who embody the full potential of the initiative. For example, Alexandra Jorge, a 2009 AWARD Fellow, notes how the AWARD Fellowship offered her unparalled upporuntities to grow in her career.

“From the AWARD Fellowship, I have also learnt how to give and impact younger colleagues”, said Jorge, while speaking at the launch.

We are excited at the timely MozAWARD launch which strengthens AWARD’s mission of investing in African women scientists, agricultural research institutions, and agribusinesses to deliver gender-responsive agricultural research and development.