AWARD Alert, January 2010

19 01 2010

We are pleased to share with you our January issue of AWARD Alert

In this issue:

  • 2010 AWARD Fellowships call for applications
  • An interview with Mozambican Fellow Filomena dos Anjos at Novus International
  • Promotions
  • AWARD science attachment opportunities
  • Scholarship, training, funding opportunities and much more…

 We welcome your feedback and contributions at 

To download the newsletter in PDF, click on the document name AWARDAlert_Jan2010


African women’s role in agricultural development

21 12 2009

We share with you an article written by 2009 AWARD Fellow, Petra Abdulsalam-Saghir, from the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta in Ogun State, Nigeria. 

The later part of 2009 witnessed pragmatic opportunities and turning around for fast tracking career building, mentoring and networking for African women scientists.

This came about because of the vision and the foresight of a lady, Vicki Wilde, Director, Gender and Diversity Program, (CGIAR) and hosted by World Agro-Forestry Centre (ICRAF). Ms. Wilde and her team of experts took it upon themselves to ensure gender revolution within Africa by developing a programme called AWARD-Africa Women in Agricultural Development and Research.

As rightly put by Kofi Annan, Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and former Secretary-General of the United Nations, “a green revolution in Africa will happen only if there is also a gender revolution”.

These opportunities are not limited to the African shores alone but also spread to the developed countries where salient talents of African women are exhibited and tapped in order to bring rapid changes to the African continent in the areas of food security and all other areas of science and technology as it affect smallholder farmers.

These opportunities are necessary, now that in Africa, especially where women have multiple roles to play in agricultural sector. Women feed sub-Saharan Africa because 80 per cent of farmers are women and they produce 60-80 per cent of the food crops the poor depend on.

Yet, African women receive just five per cent of Agricultural extension services and training and less than 10 per cent of rural credit facilities. Also, in terms of Sub-Saharan Africa’s Research and Development (R&D) pool, less than 25 per cent of Agricultural researchers are women, mostly having bachelor’s degrees while a few reach positions of leadership.

This diminishes the likelihood that the specific needs of women farmers, who constitute the vast majority of Africa’s farmers will be met. That is why Ms. Wilde’s programme focuses its effort on women because hunger, poverty and environmental degradation cannot be addressed successfully without them. She also feels that highly qualified women, particularly, from countries where women provide much of the farm labour should be a large part of the equation.

It was because of this that the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) was formed. The Award offers 60 fellowships annually which comprise two years of fellowships; designed to boost the female talent pool for African Agriculture.

Fellows are chosen from a large pool of applicants from ten Sub-Saharan African countries, namely; Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Sustainability of AWARD is a must for all. There is a need to strategize on effective ownership, and scaling out of best practices within AWARD. There is a need to monitor enhance capacities of the women participants. There is also a need to domesticate lessons learnt from workshops on mentoring, facilitation skills courses, and research methodologies and plan for its replication in other places outside AWARD, most especially in Africa and in Nigeria in particular. That is where the sustainable enigma of hope for African women lies!

• Petra Abdulsalam-Saghir, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State


AWARD fellows featured on the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative website

10 12 2009

AWARD Fellows working with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Njoro, are featured on the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative website. 

From Left, Anne Gichangi, Ruth Wanyera and Esther Kimani

Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) scientists are honored by African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) Program and accepted into 2-year fellowship program.

An essential step in African development is strengthening the voice of Africa’s knowledgeable women, both on the farm and in the laboratories. In 2007 the CGIAR Gender & Diversity Program launched African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). AWARD offers two-year fellowships to fast track the careers of African women delivering pro-poor research and development. The program is funded generously by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID. Three women from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute at Njoro were nominated for the AWARD program: Ruth Wanyera, Anne Gichangi, and Esther Kimani, who wrote up their experiences.  Read more…

Gender Missing in Climate Change Agreements

10 12 2009

Q&A: Gender Missing in Climate Agreements
Sabina Zaccaro interviews IUCN gender advisor LORENA AGUILAR REVELO


ROME, Dec 7 (IPS/TerraViva) 
Women are known to be innovators when it comes to responding to climate change. The question is how to ensure that the role of women and gender equality are reflected in climate change agreements.

Women in poor countries will be the most affected by climate change effects, according to the 2009 State of the World Population report, released last month by the United Nations Population Fund. This is because women comprise the majority of the world’s farmers, have access to fewer income- earning opportunities, and have limited or no access to technology.

To understand how far women are involved in decision making on climate change, TerraViva spoke with Lorena Aguilar Revelo, global senior gender advisor to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which is a part of the Global Gender and Climate Alliance launched at the United Nations climate change conference in Bali in December 2007.

IPS: Women are said to be the major agents of change, but their role is still not recognised, according to the gender and climate alliance.

LORENA AGUILAR REVELO: Women have been playing a major role in the management of natural resources for centuries, dealing with the agricultural sector. In countries of Africa, in Congo for example, they produce 73 percent of the food and in Africa as a whole 50 percent of the food that is being consumed on the continent.

Unfortunately, when you look at the other data you see that women only own one percent of the land worldwide; or when you look at the money from the new financing mechanism – or the previous financing mechanism – associated with climate change, you don’t find women as major beneficiaries.

IPS: Why is that so?

LAR: The reason is that the whole climate change convention is gender blind. Of the three major conventions related to climate change – desertification, biodiversity and climate change – the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change is the only agreement with no mention of gender.

There are innumerable global mandates calling for integrating a gender perspective into environmental and poverty reduction efforts that also apply to climate change. Nevertheless, there is no gender plan of action and even no mention of gender or women’s issues.

And if you analyse all the numbers that have been developed by the least developed countries, only four of them mention gender issues – in a very simplistic way. Bangladesh is the only country that has made an effort to move along these lines.

IPS: What steps are being taken to include gender perspectives into the mitigation and adaptation efforts?

LAR: Three years ago we established this alliance, and we are making sure in the new texts that any regime that comes after Copenhagen – and now probably Mexico – must have gender in it.

So far, the parties have submitted 39 references to gender and climate change, after a tremendous amount of advocacy work.

But we need to make sure that there are specific resources for women; whatever project is going to come out it must consider this, otherwise women are feeling the effects, they have a tremendous amount of knowledge on mitigation and adaptation but they are not part of anybody’s agenda.

IPS: Could you mention some examples?

LAR: Right now we are discussing a new regime that is called REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation). At the national level, for those countries that have forests it is very important. So far the discussions over REDD again have been gender blind.

Women are using the forests in a different way than men. In some countries, India for example, the role of women in protecting the forests to avoid deforestation has been major; and the same is true for Brazil or Guatemala.

When it comes to forests and mitigation – one of the major areas being discussed – it is fundamental that in those countries that have forests, where women are users of the forests, they are involved in defining how the forests are going to be used, but also in receiving the benefits that will derive from the REDD regime.

IPS: How can the participation of women in decision-making on climate change be increased?

LAR: It is fundamental that in the discussion on REDD, women are invited as stakeholders, that they’re trained to understand what REDD is about, because no one understands that very well.

When it comes to adaptation it’s the same thing. We are talking about reducing the impact of disasters for example; it means making sure that women are fully participating in disaster risk reduction processes.

IPS: Do you expect that delegates to Copenhagen will give due attention to your concerns?

LAR: We have been updating and training COP delegates for two years now. Delegates from various countries have been extremely open to including the topic of gender, like those from EU, Liberia, Ghana, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the U.S. In the high-level declaration that will probably come out of Copenhagen, we know there is going to be one mention of gender. If we get that at the end of Copenhagen it is a massive win.

(*This story appears in the IPS TerraViva online daily published for the CoP 15 at Copenhagen.)



4 12 2009

AWARD’s goal is to fast-track the careers of African women scientists in agricultural research and development. Join us in congratulating AWARD Fellows who have recently advanced in their careers.


Two AWARD Fellows and an AWARD Mentor working with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) have been promoted.
     Jesca Mbaka received a promotion to senior research officer. She has served as a research scientist for 19 years. “Thanks to AWARD for unlocking my potential,” said Jesca, sharing the good news from Stellenbosch University, South Africa where she is currently on an AWARD research attachment.
     “You raise the flag of horticulture and the industrial crops division so high that the sky is not the limit, but the limit is the sky,” said her mentor, Dr. Lusike Wasilwa, in a congratulatory message.
    Dr. Mabel Jendeka Mahasi was promoted to principal research scientist from senior plant breeder. “I appreciate the support and training from AWARD. I applied all the skills learned during the interview. I am thrilled to have made it,” said Mabel. Mabel is also mentored by Dr. Wasilwa. “We are now a force to reckon with at KARI. I am indeed extremely proud of what the gender empowerment provided by AWARD has done in propelling us to the top, “said Dr. Wasilwa.
     Dr. Margaret Mulaa, an AWARD mentor also working at KARI, has been promoted to chief research scientist from senior principal research scientist. Margaret began her career as an assistant research scientist and has risen through the ranks. “I thank KARI for recognizing my value and rewarding it. The AWARD team contributed to my achievement by giving me the opportunity to learn new skills and showing interest in my career development,” she said.
     Professor Waceke Wanjohi was recently promoted to associate professor from senior lecturer at Kenyatta University, Kenya. Waceke is the director of the Centre for Capacity Development in Higher Education at the university.


Dr. Sarah Mubiru, an AWARD Fellow and Mentor from Uganda, has been appointed program assistant, Livestock and Fisheries Program at the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA). Previously, Sarah was the team leader of animal nutrition at the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI), Tororo, Uganda.


Sheila Ommeh, an AWARD Fellow from Kenya, recently received the “Promising Young Scientists” award from the International Lions Club in Italy. She delivered her acceptance speech in Italian—her fourth language. With support from AWARD, Sheila is currently on a nine-month research attachment at Parco Tecnologico Padano while pursuing her goal of obtaining a PhD at Tuscia University in Viterbo, Italy.


4 12 2009

Mentoring Orientation Workshops:  The first step in the AWARD journey

Angela Cherunya (left) with her mentor, Dr. Margaret Mulaa

Mentoring is a proven and powerful driver for career development.  It also plays an instrumental role in retaining women in science careers. 

To begin their AWARD journey, the 2009 fellows and mentors attended the mentoring orientation workshops (MOWs) in September and October in Mombasa, Kenya.  The workshops were attended by 134 participants, representing ten AWARD countries.  They included AWARD Fellows and Mentors, staff and partners.  The workshops were facilitated by Phil and Normala Merry from the Philip Merry Consulting Group

AWARD offers two years of mentoring to BSc-level fellows and one year of mentoring for the post-MSc and post-PhD fellows. The first step of the fellowship is pairing each fellow with a mentor — a more senior professional, carefully chosen to match the fellow’s area of expertise and personal goals. Mentors are selected by Dorothy Mukhebi, AWARD mentoring coordinator, in consultation with the fellows.

In their second fellowship year, post-MSc and post-PhD fellows will pass on their knowledge by mentoring junior women scientists in their institutions, which also provides an opportunity for personal leadership experience.

During the MOW, the fellows were introduced to the basket of AWARD opportunities and resources they can access over the next two years.  The role and expectations of fellows and mentors were clarified and they got an introduction to monitoring and evaluation.  The MOW also served as a networking launch pad for all the participants.  The AWARD male mentors were at home at the workshop.  They demonstrated their firm commitment to supporting women scientists.  They quickly adopted their new nickname, SNAGs, which stands for Sensitive New Age Guys.

By the end of the workshop, participants were energized — the growth in the group was evident within such a short time.  “The enthusiasm to learn was infectious,” says Dorothy.   “The mentors were equally passionate about what AWARD stands for.”

Through their interactions during the workshops and follow-up communication, fellows and mentors established working relationships, and initiated a supportive network among themselves and with other partners, including AWARD staff. 

Dr. Felistus Chipungu, an AWARD Fellow from Malawi, is keen to share forward the information gained from the mentoring workshop.  “I appreciate what AWARD is doing; I will not hoard the information gained but will ensure it goes to other people,” says Felistus.

Role modeling: sharing it forward

4 12 2009

AWARD encourages fellows to share what they have learned through the fellowship within the broader community.  This can be in the form of a special university seminar, an inspiring talk at a secondary school, a community workshop, workplace, career fair, farmers market or other similar events. This sharing is part of the AWARD contract and encourages the fellows to become visible in their communities.  Through role modeling, they also debunk myths and stereotypes about women and agricultural research.

The role modeling events have usually focused on high school girls. Fellows feel that this is a critical stage to influence girls to take science subjects to qualify them for agricultural courses at tertiary level.    

This year, 14 AWARD Fellows organized role modeling events attended by approximately 2,000 participants. 

Mushroom cultivation training session

Dr. Sheila Okoth recently organized a role modeling event at the University of Nairobi, where she teaches.  Sheila brought together 21 women from each of Kenya’s eight provinces.  The participants at the event learned about mushroom cultivation from the lab to the farm and in the kitchen.  The practical session saw them work in the lab, seeing how to select quality spawn for cultivation.  They also prepared mushrooms for lunch at the event. 

Mushrooms have great agricultural potential, as well as nutritional and medicinal value.  However, small holder mushroom producers face various challenges.  These include lack of quality spawn, diseases and pests, lack of proper skills in production and post-harvest handling.  

Dr. Elijah Akunda, director of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nairobi, was also in attendance.  Speaking to the participants, he highlighted the importance of agriculture in ensuring household food security.  Dr. Akunda thanked AWARD for its contribution in mentoring women.  AWARD Fellows Halima Nenkari and Miriam Otipa also attended the session. Sheila’s mentee, Judith Adhiambo, helped organize the event.

Feedback from other role modeling events

“Due to the success of the role modelling event, I have been invited to another secondary school to make a similar presentation.  The youth arm of my church has also invited me to speak to the secondary students during the holiday summer coaching classes.  This initial event has opened doors of opportunities for me and my junior mentee to become more visible.”
Alabi Olanjumoke, AWARD Fellow, Nigeria

Viewers’ comments on Thema’s Journey

“If Thema managed to find solutions, why not me?”
“I am going to be the next Thema of Tanzania!”
“Today there is much more confidence in my life. Confidence, courage and self-awareness is and will always be in my heart. Thank you very much, Thema!”
Participants at a role modeling event organized by Mboka Mwanitu, AWARD Fellow, Tanzania

To watch Thema’s Journey click here



4 12 2009

Facilitation skills:  The key to successful training

At a recent facilitation training workshop organized by AWARD in Nyeri, Kenya, 20 AWARD Mentors, staff and trainee trainers enhanced their facilitation skills.  As part of its capacity-building mandate, AWARD is currently running a training of trainers (TOT) program.  The current AWARD trainers share their skills with trainee trainers drawn from across the continent.   

The workshop was led by facilitation experts, Community at Work.  Much as most participants had facilitation experience, they still took home valuable lessons.  This was a practical course that had all participants engaged.  They learned how to deal with group dynamics and incorporate all participants in the session.   The skills gained at the workshop, such as active listening, are useful in day-to-day communication, such as meetings and workshops. 

Margaret Kroma, Dorothy Mukhebi and Pauline Bomett are already sharing the skills gained at the workshop with other staff members.  During a recent AWARD retreat, staff shared skills such as chart writing and giving feedback.  

AWARD is explicitly designed to empower African women in agricultural research and development to serve as champions of rural women and to increase their visibility. Through its specially tailored leadership training courses, AWARD Fellows learn to navigate organizational gender issues, leverage team talents, manage conflict and use influence appropriately. Fellows also put their leadership skills to practice while serving as role models to inspire girls and younger women to take up a career in agricultural science.

“You have made a significant contribution to my life, career and science.  You have empowered me with group dynamics, leadership and facilitation skills.  I am grateful for all that knowledge that I have acquired.”
Eric Chilembwe, AWARD Mentor, Participant at facilitation skills course             

 Feedback from previous AWARD training sessions

“I am still reeling from the impact of the Women’s Leadership Course. The training was so practical and helpful. I wish there could be a system of passing this knowledge to the young women, aged 25-30 years, as early as possible. They will grow challenged to create impact in their lives without loss of time.
Dora Kilalo, AWARD Fellow, Kenya
“I enjoyed the leadership course and I left Nairobi feeling empowered. The 360 degree survey was revealing. At the final evaluation, I said to myself, ‘It should have happened ten years ago.’  It is never too late! I believe my life has just started.”
Grace Bolfrey-Arku, AWARD Fellow, Ghana


4 12 2009

In recognition of World AIDS Day, we feature a Ugandan fellow who has worked in the field of HIV/AIDS, Esther Wamono, nutrition surveillance officer with Action Against Hunger/Action Contre la Faim (ACF).  Esther is mentored by Dr. Joyce Kikafunda, associate professor, food and nutrition sciences, Makerere University, Uganda.  She holds a master’s degree in applied human nutrition from Makerere university.                     

A recent graduate, Esther, 31, is already tackling the high levels of malnutrition in her resource-rich country, especially among children under five years of age and people living with HIV/AIDS. Her master’s thesis focused on nutrient enhancement in bananas to improve the nutritional intake of people living with HIV/AIDS. As part of her research, Esther developed nutrient-enhanced banana flour which she supplied to rural women living with HIV/AIDS. The flour was well-accepted by the women who agreed that the staple food has great potential to increase their nutrition and food security.

 “AWARD is helping me to network with professionals outside my own field to address the challenges of rural women. Fighting poverty and hunger requires a multi-disciplinary approach including nutrition, agriculture, social workers and the women farmers themselves.”

Esther says her participation in AWARD’s professional development courses has resulted in greater self-confidence. During the AWARD mentoring orientation workshop in October 2009, she developed her life purpose goal: to eliminate malnutrition among women of reproductive age and children under five years of age in Uganda.

“I decided that the first step on my professional road map was to get a job with an international NGO,” says Esther, who previously worked as a research assistant at Makerere University. She successfully applied to Action Against Hunger/Action Contre la Faim (ACF) and began her new job as a nutrition surveillance officer in November.

“The duty station is in Karamoja region—a hunger and malnutrition-stricken area in Uganda where security is still a major problem. It was not easy to make up my mind to move from Kampala to the northeast, but I remembered the moment during the workshop when we fellows closed our eyes and imagined ourselves doing everything in our power as individuals to make Africa a better place.”

Esther combines her professional research on nutrition and HIV/AIDS with hands-on care for women and children affected by the disease and by malnutrition. In Kampala, she offers nutrition counselling and education to poor urban families through an outreach program at her church and she has served as a volunteer at an orphanage.


4 12 2009

Poetry writing has now become an AWARD tradition.  At last year’s mentoring orientation workshops (MOWs), three poems were composed, inspired by Thema’s Journey and the mentoring orientation workshops.   AWARD Fellows, Emanuella Eguagie (Nigeria) and Mboka Mwanitu (Tanzania), together with mentor Dr. Kenneth Wiyo (Malawi) and Stephen Mensah, trainee trainer, (Ghana) also caught the poetry bug.   This year, two AWARD Fellows wrote and recited the following poems at the MOWs.

My Journey in AWARD by Dr. Beatrice Akello, research officer, National Agricultural Research Organisation, Uganda

My journey in AWARD
Started when I received an award.
This journey started in June,
With my mind so in tune,
My heart full of anticipation,
Waiting for the fate of my application. 

My journey in AWARD
Is indeed a great reward.
For African Women
in Agricultural Research and Development.
Who have always longed for a great future,
But couldn’t go against their culture.

My journey in AWARD
Taking me proudly forward,
Guided by a woman called Vicki Wilde,
With her team of people so wise,
Who dared to start to dream,
To make true, another woman’s dream.

My journey in AWARD
Leaves me feeling awed.
Beholding African women,
Oh, great African women,
Gathered because of AWARD fellowship.
I cannot help but, my Creator worship.

My journey in AWARD
Has given me a great reward.
Hearing the Indian Ocean roar,
My imagination can’t help but soar
About all the wonderful rewards
For women in AWARD.

My journey in AWARD
With other women in AWARD.
Please hear my word as we take the walk.
As we receive our rewards while we walk,
Let us never forget to reward
The other women in the world