Leveraging Partnerships to Build the Science Skills of African Women Scientists
African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) and Agropolis Fondation recently took their partnership a notch higher when they launched a pan-African AWARD Fellowship initiative. For close to a decade, AWARD has, through individually tailored two-year fellowships, worked to strengthen the research and leadership skills of African women in agricultural science, empowering them to contribute more effectively to poverty alleviation, and food security in sub-Saharan Africa. The pan-African fellowship now expands this initiative into francophone Africa.
The partnership between Agropolis Foundation and AWARD has made a tremendous contribution to their shared mission of building and sustaining a strong, effective talent pool in agricultural research for Africa.
In its mission to promote and support high-level agricultural research for sustainable development, in 2009, Agropolis Fondation entered into a partnership with AWARD to build the science skills of African women scientists though the AWARD Fellowship.
A particular focus has remained on Advanced Science Training (AST) placements for African women scientists in some of the leading French research laboratories. Advanced Science Training placements are designed to strengthen and expand the women scientists’ technical expertise in their selected area of research. AST placements also help African women scientists broaden their professional networks. For French scientists, hosting an AWARD AST placement offers deep insight into the research agenda and context within Africa. AST placements also offer both French and African scientists the opportunity to enter into new and ongoing research collaborations.
The first AWARD fellow to benefit from the partnership between AWARD and Agropolis Fondation was a Nigerian woman scientist who was investigating food quality and industrial potential of Nigerian yams. Since then, many more women have had the opportunity to deepen their skills and widen their networks. Between 2011 and 2017 the Agropolis Fondation hosted a total of 15 women scientists from eight African countries.