Call for applications for 2015 AWARD Fellowship

NAIROBI, KENYA: July 7, 2014

African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) is calling for applications for its 2015 fellowships. African women scientists who are citizens of one of 11 eligible countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, or Zambia) who have completed a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in an agricultural discipline, are encouraged to apply for this prestigious two-year program.

The electronic application form is available at www.awardfellowships.org and the deadline for submission is August 8, 2014. Applications are to be completed and submitted online.

AWARD is a career-development program that equips top women agricultural scientists across sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate agricultural gains by strengthening their research and leadership skills, through two-year fellowships. Entering its seventh round this year, AWARD is offering 70 fellowships on the basis of intellectual merit, leadership capacity, and the potential of the scientist’s research to help improve food security and the livelihoods of African smallholder farmers, especially women.

Africa must increase its current food production by 260 percent, according to the FAO, if it is to feed 2.4 billion people—double its current population—by 2050. “To meet this enormous challenge, we need the best minds working on effective food security solutions,” says Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, AWARD Director. “AWARD is equipping women agricultural scientists to get their research to those who need it most—smallholder farmers.”

The competition for an AWARD Fellowship is tight. Since the program began in 2008, 3,508 women have applied for 390 available fellowships. “We expect to receive a record number of applications for this last round of fellowships that AWARD will be offering under our current grant funding,” says Kamau-Rutenberg.

By building science skills and leadership capacity, AWARD is addressing barriers that often prevent women agricultural scientists from advancing in their careers. Each fellow is matched with a suitable mentor, an experienced senior advisor who offers career guidance and scientific knowledge. About 50 percent of AWARD’s mentors are men.

“I’ve always had dreams and aspirations, but AWARD gave me the direction I needed to achieve my goals,” says Joy Adiele, a research scientist at the National Root Crops Research Institute in Uganda and a 2013 fellowship winner. “The one-on-one mentoring I received, along with the science-writing training and the valuable information I gained through AWARD’s leadership and management course for women, were all that I needed to break through the glass ceiling in my career.”

Adiele encourages qualified women scientists to apply for an AWARD Fellowship. “Opportunities don’t just happen—you need to create them,” she says. “Be determined to win. You will be groomed to become a successful agricultural scientist with international stature.”

AWARD directly invests in women scientists, empowering them to help close the gender gap across the agricultural value chain. Preliminary data collected from the first 180 AWARD alumnae revealed that:

· 84 percent experienced a significant increase in their confidence and motivation to excel, lead, and contribute toward a great vision for the future

· 87 percent improved their scientific skills and access to resources. This contributed to a significant increase in their scientific outputs, and a more than doubling of their annual publication rates in peer-reviewed journals.

· at least 80 percent are involved in the development of new methodologies and/or technologies, about half of which are being developed together with smallholder farmers

· 52 percent were promoted in their workplaces

AWARD is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. For more information, please visit www.awardfellowships.org.