African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) has announced the selection of 50 African mid-career women as Fellows in the first cohort of its newest two-year career development program. Inspired by the flagship AWARD Fellowship Model, the Gender Responsive Agriculture Systems Policy (GRASP) Fellowship, aims to grow a pool of confident and capable African women to lead policy changes to improve African smallholders’ livelihoods.
AWARD has a long legacy of enhancing women’s leadership capabilities in Africa. Since 2008, the organisation has invested in building a pool of capable, confident, and influential African women scientists to lead critical advances and innovations in the agricultural research and development sector. To date, 617 women in agricultural research from 25 countries have been awarded various AWARD Fellowships.
The 50 AWARD Policy Fellows of the inaugural Cohort of the GRASP Fellowship who hail from six African anglophone countries [Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zambia] are drawn from diverse organisations including the private sector, non-governmental organisations, and government agencies.
Why the GRASP Fellowship?
Effective policies are critical if research innovations are to provide gender-inclusive, sustainable solutions for Africa to transform its agriculture and feed its growing population. The guidelines for country implementation of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) under the Malabo declaration highlight the need for agricultural policies that will both facilitate private sector engagement and inclusive, equitable agricultural growth. Such policies require careful interrogation of the policy processes from decisions to actions.
The 50 women selected for the GRASP Fellowship are set to participate in a series of interventions designed to enable them to become more effective policy practitioners. They will receive tailored training that will enhance their negotiation skills to lead and navigate policy processes, equip them to design and implement gender-responsive policies, and help build collaborative relationships for impactful policy outcomes. Delivered by a team of experienced and dynamic AWARD trainers and partners, the immersive career development program will also provide catalytic funding to AWARD Policy Fellows to design innovative policy-oriented projects, known as Policy Innovation Projects (PIPs).
“The latest State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 (SOFI) report revealed that while there is increased hunger globally, Africa is severely affected and more important to note, is that there is a gender gap in hunger, with more women and children affected. That is why it is critical that we pay attention to how our agricultural policies are addressing the needs of both women and men, and how they enable equitable food systems,” said, Dr. Susan Kaaria, Director, AWARD
To foster knowledge and experience sharing while catalysing intergenerational networks, the GRASP Fellowship will entail a three-tiered mentoring process where each Fellow will be matched with a senior policy professional as their Mentor as well as a junior policy professional as their Mentee. The mentoring trio will be supported to form coalitions that will work on the PIPs which will provide hands-on practical experience in collaborating toward gender-responsive policy development in the agricultural sector.
On Thursday December 1st, the 50 selected Fellows will be convened at a launch webinar that is part of a series of dialogues under the GRASP Fellowship aimed at curating conversations on how to intensify efforts toward fostering policy change for equitable agri-food systems in Africa.