African women are set to play a bigger role in boosting crop productivity thanks to a major grant provided by the Gates Foundation.
The new grant, worth $13 million, will fast-track the careers of at least 360 women working in agricultural research in a bid to rectify the imbalance.
CGIAR has run a pilot project for three years in Kenya – the Nairobi-based African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (Award) programme—encouraging women to continue research rather than drop out of university, a phenomenon known as the ‘leaky pipeline’.
This has kept 20 per cent more women in agricultural research.
The grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will allow the programme to expand, offering 360 fellowships to researchers in Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
It is the first grant provided by the foundation for a gender-based project.
The Award programme includes women at different stages of their careers and does not have an age limit, unlike many other fellowship programmes.
The competitive selection process for the two-year fellowships will prioritise those whose work serves smallholders.