Nairobi, 27 November 2018: The year 2018 is exciting for African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) as it marks a decade since the founding of its flagship initiative, the AWARD Fellowship. The fellowship was established to accelerate the careers of women agricultural researchers and widen the pipeline of these women in leadership. AWARD invests in African scientists, research institutions and agribusinesses to ensure that they can deliver agricultural innovations that better respond to the needs and priorities of a diversity of communities across the continent’s agricultural value chains.
Although it is widely recognized that to increase Africa’s agricultural output, women—who provide most of the agricultural labor—must be on an equal footing with men, significantly fewer women than men are employed in agricultural research and development, critically undermining the role of women in research, policy and decision-making processes. Empirical evidence reveals that just 24 percent of agricultural researchers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are women, and the number declines to 7 percent among the leadership of African agricultural research institutions.
At a symposium to be held in Nairobi on November 29, 2018, AWARD is bringing together leading international actors in the field of agricultural research and development to discuss the gains made in advancing inclusivity and how to accelerate these. Participants have been drawn from universities, international research institutions, government bodies, donors and global non-governmental organizations. The Guest of Honor during the event will be Her Excellency, Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, a leading biodiversity scientist and the sixth President of Mauritius.
The AWARD Fellowship has had a tremendous impact in strengthening the pipeline of African women available to lead agricultural research. So far, 493 leading women agricultural researchers from 23 countries (20 Sub-Saharan and three non-African) have been equipped with leadership skills and exceptional scientific skills. Besides, the fellowship has directly benefited 785 individuals who have served as AWARD Mentors and fellows’ mentees.
“Ten years ago, we set out on a journey to fix the leaky pipeline of African women’s leadership in agricultural research. Today, I am exceedingly proud that AWARD has continued to realize the importance of inclusive transformation and grown its mandate to ensure sustainable agricultural research and development in Africa,” notes Vicki Wilde, the founding director of AWARD.
“The last decade has been remarkable, as together with our partners, we have worked to accelerate agricultural gains in Africa by investing in the continent’s leading women scientists. At the heart of our success has been the support and commitment from our partners and communities,” notes Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, AWARD Director, as she reflects on the 10th Anniversary celebrations.
Partnerships have been instrumental in AWARD’s mission. Since 2009, 44 of the world’s leading research institutions from 25 countries globally have partnered with the program to host research placements for AWARD Fellows. The collaboration with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) enabled the AWARD Fellowship to expand into the Indo-Pacific region, and for the first time in 2018, the AWARD Fellowship was awarded to women scientists from Bangladesh and Fiji. Another novel partnership in 2017 with ILRI offered the fellowship experience to the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) women scientists and saw the AWARD Fellowship extend to Europe for the first time. The latest initiative, the One Planet Fellowship, a collaboration between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the BNP Paribas Foundation and Agropolis Fondation will see AWARD manage a $15 million, five-year initiative aimed at building a vibrant, highly connected and intergenerational network of African and European scientist leaders. The One Planet Fellowship seeks to build a network of African and European scientist leaders equipped to lead next-generation research on helping Africa’s smallholder farmers adapt to a changing climate.
Ten years after the historic commitment to accelerate the careers of African women agricultural researchers, the AWARD@10 celebrations will highlight the progress in advancing inclusive agricultural research and what more needs to be done.
Other notable guests who will speak at the event include Dr. Jodi Liley of BMGF, Sylvain Taboni on BNP Paribas Foundation, Oliver Oliveros of Agopolis Fondation, Dr. Jacob Mignouna of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-ILRI Hub, professor Nelson Torto of the African Academy of Sciences, Dr. Aldo Stroebel of South Africa’s National Research Fund, Dr. Joyce B. M. Mutinda of Kenya’s National Gender & Equality Commission, Jennie van der Mheen of Wageningen University & Research, Dr. Kathryn Toure of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, Dr. Judith Lungu of Mulungushi University among others.
African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) works towards inclusive, agriculture-driven prosperity for the African continent by strengthening the production and dissemination of more gender-responsive agricultural research and innovation. We invest in African scientists, research institutions, and agribusinesses so that they can deliver agricultural innovations that better respond to the needs and priorities of a diversity of women and men across Africa’s agricultural value chains.
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African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). Hosted by World Agroforestry Centre, United Nations Avenue, Gigiri. P.O Box 30677-00100 Nairobi, Kenya.
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