The African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (Award) yesterday named three Tanzanian women among 70 brilliant African researchers who have won its 2011 Award Fellowship.
According to a press release availed to The Guardian, Catherine Sakala is one of the three Tanzanians listed among winners of the prestigious Award. She is a tse-tse fly control biologist with the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development and expects that the skills she gains through the Award will help advance her research work.
“Trypanosomiasis is considered to be one of the most important constraints to rural development in Africa and Zambia is no exception,” said Sakala. “I’m involved in trying to prevent the disease through the most environmentally friendly methods available. As an Award Fellow, I look forward to meeting other researchers in this area,” she noted.
The outstanding researchers were selected from among 785 competitive applicants from 11 African countries, bringing the total number of women in the programme to 250.
“These talented women are conducting critical agricultural researches which is needed to feed Africa’s people and help mitigate crises like we are seeing in East Africa right now. We are recognising and supporting these women today with the Award Fellowship,” said Award director Vicki Wilde.
The Award will help these top scientists develop their researches, leadership skills and enhance their contributions to poverty alleviation and food security across the continent. While the women come from diverse agricultural disciplines, they share a common passion to help smallholder farmers.
“My parents paid for my primary education by selling a cattle or a goat, so I know from experience that livestock is the cornerstone of people’s livelihood in rural Africa,” said Dr Lillian Wambua, a molecular geneticist at the University of Nairobi’s School of biological sciences and one of this year’s Award winners.
“Diseases are the greatest challenges to livestock farmers. As an Award and upcoming researcher, my goal is to use my scientific skills to collaborate with like-minded researchers in finding lasting solutions to secure healthy herds,” she explained.
Wambua is one of the 2,200 female scientists from 450 institutions to have applied for one of the 250 fellowships in 2008.
The Award Fellows benefits from a two-year career development programme focused on mentoring partnerships, science skills and leadership development. The fellowships are awarded on the basis of intellectual merit, leadership capacity and the potential of the scientist’s research to improve the daily lives of smallholder farmers, especially women.
“Usaid is pleased to support African women scientists via the Award, as an integral component of the US government’s commitment to reducing gender inequality and recognising the contribution of women to achieving food security,” said Kurt Low, office director for the Regional Economic Growth and Integration Programme at Usaid/East Africa.
“By drawing on some of the best minds in agricultural research, Award provides a shining example of the contributions that women can make to poverty alleviation and food security in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Award addresses many of the barriers, including lack of role models and mentors, which prevent African women from playing an active role in agricultural research and from considering a career in agricultural science.
A recent research conducted in 15 African countries by the Award and Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) shows that between 2000 and 2008, the number of African women professionals employed in agricultural sciences grew by 8 per cent per year, while the number of African male professionals grew by 2 per cent per year.
However, women still represents less than one quarter of Africa’s scientists holding positions in institutions of agricultural research and less than one in seven (14 per cent) leadership positions is held by a woman.
Source The Guardian