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Zambian Women in Agricultural Research and Development Launched

On October 20, 2016, Zambian AWARD Fellows and Mentors met together in Lusaka, to launch AWARD’s latest country chapter, the Zambian Women in Agricultural Research and Development (ZaWARD), at the Zambia Science Conference 2016 organized by the National Science and Technology Council. Invited guests included: Ms. Sara Longwe, Chairperson of the Non-Governmental Organization Coordinating Committee and Mr. Chance Kabaghe, the Executive Director of the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institution and ZaWARD’s patron.

During his address, Kabaghe emphasized that as a non-profit organization that supports the careers of Zambian women agricultural researchers, ZaWARD will assist in sharpening skills in science, research, mentorship, leadership and ultimately gender responsiveness. “This will result in a cadre of female agricultural professionals who are more technically competent, more confident and better networked to effect change for both women and men across the agriculture sphere,” he said. Kabaghe also stressed that ZaWARD seeks to influence behavioral change that will see women at all levels perceived and integrated as key agents of development in agriculture.

The guest of honor, Minister of Agriculture, Ms. Dora Siliya was represented by Mr. Julius Shawa, Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, who gave a speech on the importance of engaging in gender-responsive agriculture. “This is the first time women in Zambia have gathered to promote research and development," he noted. "Agricultural science in many aspects is viewed as a masculine career, yet we are saying the majority of our small-scale farmers are women. Do we want to leave only the men to be researchers to carry out work that is ultimately intended to help these small scale-farmers?”

Shawa expressed gratitude to AWARD for introducing the fellowship in which close to 30 Zambians have participated since 2008 and also acknolwedged the women who have now come together to form ZaWARD. He encouraged AWARD to consider including more Zambians as AWARD Fellows and Mentors in the future.

Representing AWARD, Fellowships Officer Everlyne Otunga encouraged the ZaWARD community to keep promoting AWARD’s mission and engaging with one another. “Country chapters like ZaWARD will foster a spirit of togetherness and promote AWARD’s ideals of women’s empowerment and gender responsiveness among past beneficiaries, their institutions and beyond," she said. "Through the country chapters, we envision AWARD’s impact as continuing to grow in the African agricultural R&D sector.”

ZaWARD’s next objective is to establish a secretariat that will enable the community to share information, which will include documenting the work the women scientists are doing in contributing to the Zambian agricultural sector and to ARD.