African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) is a career-development fellowship program aimed at empowering and equipping African women scientists with the tools to have a stronger voice and position in the agricultural research workforce. Data has shown that many women across Africa enroll in agricultural science programs but face discouraging male-dominated dynamics in the workplace, a result of gender and cultural norms, that prevent them from moving up the career ladder and attaining leadership positions. Having a strong representation of women scientists in agricultural development positions is crucial in addressing the needs of African women farmers, advancing food security, and bringing about Africa’s green revolution by utilizing the full potential of human talent rather than marginalizing half the population. AWARD’s vision is an “agricultural research and development sector [that] demonstrates increasing responsiveness to the needs and contributions of women” where “critical advances and innovations in agricultural development for Africa are led and enriched by the contributions of capable, confident, and influential African women.”
AWARD empowers the African female scientists in their fellowship program by fostering a mentoring partnership that pairs the fellow with a senior scientist or professional mentor who helps guide the fellow towards building scientific and leadership skills. Science and leadership skills are developed through skill and management courses, including a module on gender-responsiveness, science conferences, the potential for a research attachment, and the opportunity to hold a role-modeling event in the fellow’s community. AWARD also helps build a cross-regional strategic alliance for sustainability between African women scientists, with 390 African women from 11 different countries having benefitted as AWARD fellows to date. AWARD partners with more than 200 different organizations and institution in agricultural research and beyond, and receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID.
Written by: Christopher Ewell, AGS Intern on May 28, 2015