How Much Progress Have The 2018 Pan-African AWARD Fellows Made?
After a year of mentoring, the 2018 African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) Fellows and Mentors convened in Nairobi for a two-day meeting to reflect, asses and evaluate their fellowship progress. The Progress Monitoring Meeting held on January 21-22, 2019 included discussions, presentations and a panel session dabbed ‘looking into the future of mentoring.’ It also marked the beginning of new mentoring relationships for the AWARD Fellows as they prepared to take on the role of mentors to emerging young women agricultural scientists (Fellow’s mentees) in the second phase of the Fellowship period.
The Fellows and the Mentors described their interaction as transformative, insightful and a significant growth opportunity. “It is astounding what opportunities the mentoring partnership brings. From building self-confidence that mirrors itself in one’s career, to the visibility it creates. I am specifically pleased with the networking opportunities I have obtained through the Fellowship”, states Professor Sekender Ali, a Mentor from Bangladesh. Professor Rabeharisoa Lilia Rahajaharitompo, a Mentor from Madagascar, mentioned that her mentoring experience reminded her that learning is a continuous journey. “From this meeting, it is evident that sharing knowledge and experience is crucial in fast-tracking the careers of women scientists. I had the opportunity to learn and gain new experiences, while at the same time build sustainable networks that are important in my professional life,” she says.
While showcasing their career progress, the Fellows revealed various advancements in their careers including publishing in peer-reviewed journals, taking up Ph.D. studies, job promotions, and increased networks. Speaking on behalf of the fellows, Dr. Eveline Marie Fulbert Compaoré from Burkina Faso, credited the AWARD training courses they had attended as having had an impact on their career development. “We learned how to communicate our research findings, write proposals and improve our interpersonal skills. The learnings have reflected on the number of journals and scientific papers we have published. We have even written proposals and won grants to finance our research!” She added. Notably, five of the 28 Fellows have won research grants in their first year of the Fellowship while a majority have written and contributed to scientific publications. Plugging the scientific publishing gender gap is a fundamental contribution of the AWARD Fellowship which among other things, builds the science writing skills of its women scientists by providing them with intensive training courses in scientific writing and publishing. Read a recently published special report highlighting the results and selected impact stories of the Fellowship.
Mary Ndomba, a Fellow from Tanzania, noted that the leadership and management skills she acquired from AWARD training courses, has enabled her to attend and present papers in regional and international conferences. “I am now able to articulate my [scientific] arguments in international conferences and handle new leadership responsibilities. I am grateful to AWARD for enabling this transformation”, she added.
In her keynote speech, the AWARD Director, Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, reiterated the importance of connecting as scientists to ensure sustainable development. “We need to keep learning and pushing for more opportunities to influence lives positively.”
Six Fellows from the francophone and anglophone countries who emerged top following the progress assessments were presented with awards to support them in their journey toward achieving their set goals.