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




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