Jul 26, 2013
Game-changers: Celebrating AWARD Men

Having recently become the father of a baby boy, I believe even more strongly that what the world needs most are healthy male role models. Men who don’t confuse masculine strength with control or power. Men who love and inspire. Men who dare to take risks not for personal fulfillment, but for good. Men who are comfortable admitting they don’t have all the answers, and who are willing to listen to others to see if there is a better way. Men whose lives don’t just revolve around themselves. Men who are happy to trade the lead for a supporting role in a much bigger story.

AWARD’s role is clear and focused. We take women scientists on a career-development journey so they can grow, excel, and innovate in gender-responsive agricultural research and development that addresses the needs of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, most of whom are women. But this doesn’t mean that men are excluded—in fact, many of the game changers in AWARD are men.

Nigerian Dr. Samuel Babajide is one of the many supportive husbands who stand beside AWARD’s women scientists, encouraging them in their careers. He recently borrowed the money to buy an air ticket to Kenya so he and his wife could celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary together. Dr. Joan Babajide, an AWARD Fellow, is away from home on a six-month advanced science training t at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi.

“I believe in gender equality. An educated man must encourage his wife to move ahead, and not suppress her, or treat her like a slave or a maid,” advises Babajide. “When a woman advances, it is an advantage for the whole family.”

AWARD’s male mentors are also gender champions. (About half of the 270 AWARD Mentors are men.) These senior scientists volunteer their valuable time, energy, and experience to support and guidewomen scientists, and are open to changing themselves in the process. As one mentor wrote, “It was a most humbling experience to learn from my mentee even as I mentored her. Being a male mentor, I had a rare opportunity to learn first-hand how gender issues that we take for granted affect the progress of women scientists at work, and how their advancements into leadership positions are hampered.”

Many AWARD Fellows’ supervisors and the institutional leaders with whom we partner are men. They support their women staff members to participate in AWARD events, and they embrace the benefits for their organizations.

The men on AWARD’s Steering Committee also strongly advocate for women.  Dr. Peter Matlon, former Managing Director-Africa of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Dr. Samuel Bruce-Oliver, Advisor to the Director General of the Africa Rice Center, guide us with their invaluable wisdom and vision.

Men comprise almost a third of AWARD staff team, including our training consultants. They work hard each day to make a difference and give their best to our fellowship program.

To all of these men, and the many others not mentioned here, we say thank you. Thank you for inspiring us and showing us that great men play an important role in 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.

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