Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Expertise of African women in the agricultural sciences

Confronting the disparity between the role of African women in farming and their limited presence in the agriculture sciences, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Gender & Diversity Program launched at the CGIAR Beijing conference an unprecedented $13 million effort that will support the fast-tracking of careers of at least 360 African women in agricultural research. Participating countries include Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

The Nairobi-based African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) program is being funded with a four-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant represents the Foundation’s belief in the importance of engaging women at every level in agricultural development. Today, women farmers produce 60 to 80 percent of crops critical to feeding the people of Africa. Yet women comprise less than 20 percent of agricultural researchers. Specifically, the program seeks to achieve a:

  • 25 percent increase in African women with BSc degrees participating as members of research teams in at least 20 agricultural institutions in sub-Saharan Africa;
  • 50 percent increase in African women with masters degrees managing research teams and producing improved farm technologies at these institutions;
  • 50 percent increase in African women PhDs serving in influential leadership roles and as role models and mentors to younger women;
  • Significant increase in the number of African girls and young women inspired to pursue careers in agricultural research and development; and
  • Significant increase in the number of men and women aware of the importance of women’s voices and contributions to agriculture in Africa.
“We cannot fight hunger and poverty in Africa, particularly in the struggling regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, unless women have a strong voice not just on the farm, but in the lab,” said Vicki Wilde, head of the CGIAR Gender & Diversity Program, at the CGIAR Annual General Meeting in Beijing where the grant was announced. “It is urgent that we increase the number of African women in agricultural research. We are thrilled that the Gates Foundation is funding our work in this area.”

Bussiness Daily: Women scientists to benefit from $13 million grant
EurekAlert: Gates Foundation funds new effort

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