May 15, 2024
CSW68 Blog: CSW dreams I bring back to Nigeria

Clara Chinwoke Ifeanyi-obi is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in Nigeria. As a beneficiary of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD’s) Gender Responsive Agriculture Systems Policy (GRASP) Fellowship, Clara is working to develop a policy framework that will track the implementation of gender commitments in climate change policies in her country. She speaks here on her excitement at presenting at the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) in America after being selected by AWARD to attend the event.

While running around under the scourging sun to prepare for a training workshop for rural women leaders in Rivers State, I got the message from AWARD about my selection to speak at CSW68. I could no longer feel the heat—this news brought me overwhelming joy.

A chance to visit New York and attend CSW68 would be an entirely new experience for me. Moreover, I relish any opportunity to share the critical need for gender responsiveness in climate change interventions and policies, as this is key to achieving successful climate adaptation.

On March 12, 2024, I began my journey to New York. On stopping in Amsterdam, I met one of my GRASP colleagues, Comfort Yelipoie, from Ghana. While we waited for our flight to New York, we shared our experiences of the GRASP Fellowship and realized how each of us had been transformed through the program.

The negotiation skills acquired through AWARD’s training have enabled me to better connect with key stakeholders and gain their commitment to engage with my policy projects. As I listened to Comfort’s story, it was amazing to hear how AWARD’s capacity-building and mentoring had impacted her – building her from a shy researcher to a courageous policy leader who made meaningful contributions at the decision-making table.

Ahead of attending the conference, I was keen to attend several sessions that were key to my area of research and interest in supporting rural women. Issues like how digital inclusion can help close the gender gap, breaking the single-parent poverty trap, unpaid care work in Africa, and conflict-related sexual violence caught my attention.

One session, jointly hosted by Naija Worldwide Charities, Global Women Africa Network, and New Future Foundation, is particularly memorable and thought-provoking. Inspiring women from diverse backgrounds presented their incredible stories of resilience – defying the odds to impact their communities and support their tribes. This encouraged me to look again at the challenges I currently face in my work to see if I could turn them into stepping stones, as these women had done.


Another stand-out session, organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Bahamas, was on gender equality and climate change. It was reassuring to hear of the work done elsewhere in fostering gender-responsive adaptation to climate change. One issue that resonated among the speakers was the importance of capacity building for women.

I have long asserted that, for climate change interventions and policies to be truly gender-responsive, we need to enhance women’s capacity to understand better and actively participate in interventions and decision-making so they can meaningfully contribute.

The highlight of attending CSW was speaking at the AWARD side event: ‘Exploring the nexus of gender-responsive policies and equitable agrifood systems.’ I was delighted to present a ‘Gender SMART’ tool I am developing with my mentor as part of a Policy Innovation Project (PIP) with AWARD.

The tool will be used to track and assess the implementation of gender commitments in climate change policies and interventions in my country’s agricultural sector. Most interventions in agriculture are male-focused, even though women make up a significant portion of the agricultural workforce. Hence, my focus is on how we can develop and implement gender-responsive operational climate change adaptation.

Before the event, we were trained in presenting using a ‘storytelling’ approach. This meant relating my work to my background and personal experiences to explain how and what had inspired me and influenced my career choices. I was awed at how effectively this captivated the audience’s attention.

The side event was a very insightful discussion. I learned more about how other countries foster gender responsiveness in their agri-food systems. For instance, listening to the Malawian High Commissioner, I learned that Malawi is experiencing challenges similar to Nigeria in implementing gender-related policies. It was exciting to realize that my Proposed Policy Innovation Project with AWARD will also be relevant to their situation.

I travel home with many lessons, insights, and dreams I want to bring to reality. Thank you, AWARD, for this life-transforming experience. I will forever remain grateful for it.


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