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AWARD partners with Agropolis Fondation as it spreads its wings into Francophone Africa

On February 19, 2018, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) signed a partnership agreement with Agropolis Fondation to support the implementation of the AWARD Pan-African fellowship initiative. The AWARD Fellowships offer career-development opportunities to Africa's leading women agricultural scientists to ensure that a growing cohort of capable, confident, and influential African women scientists is available to lead critical advances and innovations for the continent's agricultural sector.

Agropolis Fondation's funding of US$ 1 million will support AWARD in structuring its fellowship activities to maximize interactions between female scientists from francophone and anglophone Africa.

The agreement marked the launch of a new round of AWARD Fellowships that will not only see AWARD expand into francophone Africa but also beyond, with this year's cohort including women scientists from the Pacific, Southeast Asia, and Europe. Speaking at the launch, Dr Pascal Kosuth, Director, Agropolis Fondation, reiterated that "Agropolis Fondation shares in AWARD's vision of supporting African agriculture and African women scientists for the continent's prosperity".

Evidence reveals that shares of full-time female researchers in Francophone Africa are lower than the continent-wide average, at less than 20 percent. Further, very few Francophone African women are in advanced degree programs, weakening the pipeline to agricultural research positions. Even when they do earn advanced degrees, they tend to do so later in life and hence have only about 15 years of service to the scientific community before retirement.

Responding to the need for a more pan-African engagement, AWARD is particularly delighted to launch this new cohort of fellows, which brings together participants (fellows, mentors, and fellow's mentees) from Francophone and Anglophone Africa to maximize interactions and leverage on learning opportunities across the continent and beyond. This year's contingent of AWARD Fellows also includes women scientists who have been sponsored by their institutions, which include the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

"This is a tremendous boost to AWARD's desire to be truly pan-African," noted Dr Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, Director of AWARD. "The pan-African element will enable us to expand our vision and influence into Francophone Africa."

The launch was well attended by various partners and dignitaries including the vice chairperson of AWARD Steering Committee- professor Sanni Lateef; Dr Rosine Nzietchueng from the Embassy of Republic of France in Nairobi; Ms. Susan Learoyd from the Global Affairs Office at the High Commission of Canada in Nairobi; Dr. Pierre Grard, Director of the French Agricultural Research and International Cooperation Organization (CIRAD) in Kenya; Dr. David Williamson, Director the French Research Institute for Development (IRD) in Kenya and Ms. Cathy Watson from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), which hosts AWARD.

Since 2008, AWARD Fellowships have directly benefited 1,158 agricultural scientists (84 percent of them women) from over 300 institutions. Female agricultural scientists from 16 African countries—Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cöte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia—have earned an AWARD Fellowship.

See photos from the signing ceremony and launch of the pan-African fellowship

AWARD works toward inclusive, agriculture-driven prosperity for the African continent by strengthening the production and dissemination of more gender-responsive agricultural research and innovation. We invest in African scientists, research institutions, and agribusinesses to deliver innovative, sustainable, gender-responsive agricultural research and innovation.

Agropolis Fondation is a French scientific foundation (established in 2007) that promotes, through research and higher education, the development and sharing of knowledge in the service of stakeholders in agriculture and sustainable development. Its dual approach to strengthening as well integrating different scientific fields aims to address complex issues linking agriculture and society.