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Pan-African AWARD Fellowship launched

For the first time since its inception in 2008, the African Women on Agricultural research and Development (AWARD) opens its Call for Fellowship to francophone female scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This is made possible through the combined efforts of Agropolis Fondation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the USAID country offices in Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya.


Responding to the need for a more pan-African engagement, the 2017 and 2018 AWARD Fellowships will offer a more balanced opportunity in the region as 50% of the of 22 available Fellowships per year is earmarked for francophone female scientists from the region.  The structure of the fellowship activities is also being designed to maximize interactions between female scientists from francophone and Anglophone Africa.  

AWARD Fellowship involves a two-year career development fellowship that builds the mentoring, science, and leadership skills of African women scientists - all carried out with a focus on gender issues in agricultural research.  Three components of the Programme form the cornerstones of the fellowship.


·        Fostering Mentoring Partnerships: AWARD pairs each fellow with a mentor—a senior professional, carefully chosen to match the fellow’s area of expertise and career goals. Each AWARD Fellow is mentored for one year then serves as a mentor to an emerging female scientist during the second year of her fellowship.   


·      Sharpening Science Skills: This component entails expanding the fellows’ world of science and facilitating their access to the latest methodologies and technologies, while building their professional networks. This includes courses on science writing for publication, research proposals, or policy engagement, and advanced science training (AST) through research placements in leading global research such as labs within the Foundation’s scientific network. The Foundation has supported 15 Fellows since 2010 in research units in Montpellier, Avignon and Perpignan.


·      Unlocking leadership potential: Leadership training helps AWARD Fellows learn to: (a) successfully manage R&D teams; (b) navigate organizational dynamics; (c) build alliances and take risks; (d) promote gender-sensitive policies and practices; and (e) influence their institutions on behalf of rural women and smallholders.   


As member of AWARD Steering Committee, the Foundation played a key role in ensuring that French-speaking countries in SSA region are eligible to apply for AWARD Fellowship. The 2011 AWARD-commissioned study to explore the feasibility of launching an AWARD Francophone programme estimated roughly 3,700 female students and professionals in agricultural science in francophone Africa. Women are estimated at only 16% of the francophone research labor force (Dahlberg Report, 2011).

The same study cited that agricultural R&D institutions in francophone SSA, particularly in West Africa, employ substantially fewer professional women than those in mainly Anglophone East and Southern Africa. Of these, only a few have post-graduate degrees and an even smaller number of women hold leadership positions.  A more recent review of the data by ASTI (Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators) in 2014 indicates that the situation remains largely unchanged.