By Amanda Stone
Last week in Nairobi, Kenya AWARD – African Women in Agricultural Research and Development – announced the 2010 recipients of their annual scholarship program. The AWARD Fellowship is part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research or (CGIAR)’s Gender and Diversity Program.
Sixty women from ten African countries, including an expert in passion fruit, a breeder of catfish, and a pigeonpea researcher, will receive grants from the AWARD scholarship program to help enhance their expertise, and become leaders in their fields while contributing to poverty reduction and food security in Africa.
Since the creation of the AWARD program in 2008, 1,681 women scientists from 450 institutions have applied, 800 applied just this year. The new winners brings the total to 180 fellows working across disciplines such as agricultural economics, engineering, agronomy, livestock, biodiversity, horticulture, and more. The scholarships, awarded based on intellectual merit, ability, and potential positive impact for the research to have on daily lives of small farmers (particularly women), give the winners access to mentoring partnerships, scientific skills and leaderships. It also unites them with a growing network of other award winners.
If you thought the glass ceiling was still harsh in the United States, take a look at Africa where women still represent less than one quarter of African scientists in agricultural research institutions and occupy managerial positions in only seven of those. Fortunately, the crucial role of women scientists and small-scale farmers in food security is increasingly recognized by the international donor community. USAID recently doubled its funding for the AWARD program.
“Only with the full involvement and leadership of women in agriculture will Africa succeed in its quest for food security and prosperity…There is no time to lose,” says AWARD Director, Vicki Wilde.
To read more about the importance of focusing on women farmers in funding and policy to alleviate global hunger and poverty, see: Feeding Communities by Focusing on Women, Farming on the Urban Fringe, Building a Methane Fueled Fire, Women Farmers: An ‘Untapped Solution’ to Global Hunger, Women Entrepreneurs: Adding Value, Women Farmers Are Key to Halving Global Hunger by 2015, and Reducing the Things They Carry.
Amanda Stone is a media and communications intern with Nourishing the Planet.