The AWARD is a career-development programme, through which tailored fellowships are used to equip top women agricultural scientists across sub-Saharan Africa, to accelerate agricultural gains by strengthening their research and leadership skills.
The AWARD Fellows benefit from two-year fellowships, focused on fostering mentoring partnerships, building science skills and developing leadership capacity.
The programme, currently operating in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, is being funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, together with USAID, Apropolis Foundation and AGRA.
In Ghana, AWARDS is partnering the Center for Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR) to establish a formal one-year mentoring relationship between scientists in the various institutes in the Council.
It is a bid to improve the output of both male and female scientists, enabling them to contribute better towards achieving the mandate of the CSIR and their own career goals.
Mentoring is a relationship in which a more experienced scientist nurtures and supports the growth of a junior colleague to realize their potential.
Ms Dorothy Mukhebi, the Deputy Director, Programmes (Fellowships and Institutional Partnerships of AWARD, said in 2008, the programme found out that less than one out of seven leaders of agricultural institutions is a woman, meaning that women have not had a voice in setting the priorities for this sector.
Ms Mukhebi said since 2008, nearly 4,006 women scientists from over 500 institutions have applied for one of the 460 available fellowships and have worked directly with 1,111 scientists (including 460 Fellows, 355 Mentors, and 296 Fellows’ Mentees), 85 research organizations and 30 African trainers.
Fellows are drawn from different disciplines of agricultural research – ranging from breeders to policymakers, from extension educators to biotech engineers.
Although AWARD Fellowships are only offered to African women agricultural scientists, nearly half of AWARD’s mentors are African men in senior positions.
This constitutes about 10 per cent of total AWARD participants and majority of the scientists are from: CSIR – 32, University of Ghana 28, and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) -14.
Out of 45 fellows from Ghana, 13 representing 29 per cent are from the CSIR.
Dr Mamaa Entsuah-Mensah, the Deputy Director of CSIR, said there is the need for men to understand and appreciate women to help them progress without any limitation.
Dr Hans Adu-Dapaah, immediate past Director of the Crop Institute of the CSIR, said success has certain connotations such as courage, to implement, determination, discipline and perseverance, adding that “experience cannot be bought but achieved only through going through the mill”.
Mrs Patricia Aboe, the CSIR Mentoring Coordinator, said the mentoring relationships are expected to give rise to a continuous crop of vibrant and performing male and female scientists in the CSIR.
“The call for applications was therefore open to both men and women and the result is the men and women, who have gathered here today to start their One-Year mentoring relationship,” she said.
Dr Victor Agyeman, the Director-General of CSIR, said the programme is a catalyst for innovation, which had the tendency to create a ripple effect to change the development of Africa and Ghana.