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Honoring 2016 World Food Prize Laureates

From Left: Professor Roger Guy Poulter (AECF board member), Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, Lord Paul Boateng (AECF board chair), Dr. Maria Andrade (AWARD Mentor and honoree), Dr. Jan Low (AWARD Mentor and honoree), Anabela Manhica (2010 AWARD Fellow), and Kola Masha (AECF board member) at UNON during AGRF 2016.

During the recent African Green Revolution Forum Conference (AGRF 2016) that was held in Nairobi, Kenya, AWARD co-hosted a gala dinner in partnership the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF). During this event AWARD honoured two former mentors, Dr Jan Low and Dr Maria Andrade for their contribution to agricultural science.

“Earlier today, we heard a very real concern for how we can support women and unleash the African women’s potential to drive our much needed growth and prosperity.

We at AWARD have spent the last nine years doing exactly that—working at the complex, but critical confluence of advanced scientific research, gender equality and capacity building. AWARD works to ensure that Africa benefits from the scientific research talents of its women.

We have had tremendous success, and to date, have invested in 495 of Africa’s leading African women scientists. Our community now comprises over 1100 scientists who all have been touched by our work in sixteen countries.

Ninety-eight percent of AWARD fellows report increased research outputs, eighty-four percent were promoted either during or after their fellowship, and sixty-five percent led or participated in new collaborations.

Some of those AWARD Fellows, Mentors, and their mentees are here with us tonight.

But investing in women scientists is not enough. We need to ensure that the tremendous innovations by African women scientists see the light of day and reach our farmers.

Earlier today, we heard about the tremendous gender gap in agribusiness funding. Our research indicates that only one to ten percent of agribusiness funding goes to women. This is why AWARD has designed GAIA: Gender in Agribusiness Incubation for Africa.

This program will seek to bring gender diversity to the agribusiness investment space to ensure that the scientific innovation lead by our African women researchers sees the light of day—the innovation of women like the two we want to celebrate today.

We have partnered with AECF because we know that it is possible to bring women to the center of male-dominated fields. We know the power of mentoring, leadership training, and skills building in ensuring that women can compete on a level playing field.

AECF is tremendously well-positioned to be a driver of change in a financing sector that is in need of disruption. To the new board, we support your commitment to investing in women, and we stand ready to partner with you through GAIA.

We hope a partnership might result in more investments in the scientific innovations of tonight’s honorees. The women are there. We just need to find them and invest in them.

Tonight, I am honored to ask you to join me in celebrating two women who are members of the AWARD community and who prove that women in agricultural science can transform a continent.“

AWARD Mentors Dr. Jan Low and Dr. Maria Andrade received recognition for their dedication to agricultural science and also for the empowerment of African women scientists. Dr. Andrade and Dr. Low are also the recipients of the 2016 World Food Prize.