African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) joined the Generation Equality Forum convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, in Paris, from June 30 to July 2, 2021. The Forum brought together governments, feminist leaders, youth, and multi-sector change-makers, to announce trailblazing gender equality investments, programmes, and policies.
A critical and timely conversation to accelerate gender equality in agriculture
On July 1, 2021, Dr. Michèle Mbo’o-Tchouawou, AWARD’s Deputy Director in charge of Programs, joined our partners, including Antoine Sire, the Head of Company Engagement at BNP Paribas; Manuel Tonnar, General Director at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg; and Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Coordinator of Chad’s Association of Peul Women and Autochthonous in a panel discussion moderated by Oulimata Sarr, Regional Director of UN Women West and Central Africa.
Across Africa, the agriculture sector is an essential source of economic growth and food security. Notably, women account for 80% of the bulk of labor input in African agriculture. Despite their significant contributions, the existing gender gaps, some systematic, legislative, and cultural limit their success in the sector.
The panel discussion focused on opportunities and best practices to improve women’s economic empowerment and climate resilience in the Sahel through participation in climate-resilient agriculture.
Recognizing the critical role research plays in supporting Africa’s capacity to advance gender equality in agricultural research development, AWARD invests in strengthening the pipeline of women in agricultural research leadership.
Together with partners through our flagship AWARD Fellowship, we have supported 534 women from 23 African countries to lead and develop gender-responsive innovations that respond to the needs and priorities of a diversity of men and women farmers. The flagship Fellowship continues to expand in its scope and geographical coverage, opening the AWARD Fellowship’s benefits to women agricultural scientists from francophone Africa.
In a multi-partner initiative including the BNP Paribas Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the European Union, Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and Agropolis Fondation we have scaled up the flagship AWARD Fellowship to benefit climate change researchers across 14 countries in Africa. Through the One Planet Fellowship, we are building local talent to lead context-specific innovations that support Africa’s smallholders to cope with a changing climate.
AWARD’s long-standing commitment to contributing to bridging the gender gap
Fostering gender equality in research requires intentional strategies to address systemic causes of the gender gaps. Through our Global Forum on Women in Scientific Research (GoFoWiSeR) initiative, we are addressing the systemic causes of the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) by spotlighting the strategies and approaches that improve the numbers and experiences of women in the field.
Under GoFoWiSeR’s umbrella, we recently launched a leadership program targeting emerging African women scientists. The program aims to equip participants with skills and knowledge to develop their leadership capacity, navigate challenges in leadership spaces, and leverage networks to advance their careers through customized learning experiences.
We also recognize the fundamental role of strategic partnerships in advancing gender equality. That is why we are scaling up our interventions on institutional transformation through the Gender Responsive Agricultural Research and Development initiative (GRARD). The institutions effectively promote lasting inclusive and sustainable practices that improve lives and strengthen the pipeline of women in science.
As highlighted in the recent AgSpirations report by AWARD, the key to finding solutions is an enhanced focus on the systemic causes of the gender divide in various sectors, including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
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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