Sep 19, 2023
AWARD launches second Cohort of Fellows to work on gender-responsive agri-food policies

African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) is delighted to announce the Fellows in the second Cohort of its Gender Responsive Agriculture Systems Policy (GRASP) Fellowship. The two-year career development program aims to grow a pool of confident and capable mid-career African women to lead policy changes to improve African smallholders’ livelihoods, particularly women.

At a launch webinar held on September 11, 2023, AWARD welcomed the 50 Fellows from six Anglophone and Francophone African countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Senegal). The Fellows hold positions in various institutions—from government and education to NGOs and the private sector—with most working in social sciences.

The selected applicants all have at least 10 years of experience in the policy field of agriculture and food systems at national, regional, or continental levels. With a significant number (18) working within governmental roles, these women are well-positioned to contribute to enhanced, evidence-based policymaking—a key ambition of the program.

This year’s selection includes some fellows from the same institutions as those from the first cohort, including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Labor Organization. This is hailed as a positive step towards building teams that can champion policy change within organizations or policy areas.

With a significant number of Fellows coming from Madagascar and Ethiopia –13 and 11, respectively – the aim is to generate a pool of capable women who can support one another in influencing and fostering policy change.

Speaking at the launch event, Ms. Kristy Cook, Senior Policy Advisor at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, emphasized the importance of capacity building and mentorship programs targeting women across the agricultural value chain, which will, in turn, promote the strengthening of gender-responsive food systems globally.

 “Despite some bright spots of progress over the past decade, the FAO Report on Status of Women in Agrifood Systems shows that there is still a lot of work to be done in bridging the gender gaps that exist and persist in agriculture and, certainly, innovative solutions such as the GRASP Fellowship by AWARD are a positive step towards the realization of this goal.”-Kristy Cook, USAID.


The 50 women selected for the GRASP Fellowship will receive customized training in mentoring, advanced leadership skills, negotiation skills, gender in agricultural policy, and masterclasses on policy processes. Beneficiaries will also receive catalytic funding and access to networks to enable them to lead policy processes that integrate gender for agricultural transformation in Africa.

The GRASP Fellowship fosters gender-responsive policies to close the gender gaps in agri-food systems.

“One of our goals at AWARD is to support women to not only become effective leaders of agricultural research for development agendas but also to promote an enabling environment for equitable agri-food systems. The GRASP Fellowship offers unparalleled opportunities to women in Africa and is cultivating a growing pool of women to be technically competent to lead policy processes and decisions that will consider the unique experiences of women and men smallholders,” says Dr Susan Kaaria, Director AWARD.


Each Fellow has been matched with a senior policy professional who will serve as a mentor, and the Fellows will also each select a junior policy professional to mentor later in the Fellowship period. The trio will be supported to participate in structured mentoring programs to foster knowledge sharing and development of Policy Innovation Projects that will provide hands-on practical experience in collaborating toward gender-responsive policy development.

The Gender Responsive Agriculture Systems Policy (GRASP) Fellowship is a career development program growing a pool of confident, capable African women to lead the design and implementation of gender-responsive policies in Africa. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Fellowship is implemented by African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD).








African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). Hosted by World Agroforestry Centre, United Nations Avenue, Gigiri. P.O Box 30677-00100 Nairobi, Kenya.

Email: awardqueries@cifor-icraf.org | Tel: +254 (0) 20 722 4242