AFRICAN WOMEN IN AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (AWARD) is a career development program initiated in 2008, to strengthen and sharpen the research and leadership skills of African women in agricultural science. It is aimed at further empowering them to contribute more effectively to accelerating agricultural gains in Africa. AWARD fellows benefit from a two-year fellowship focused on fostering mentoring partnerships, building science skills, and developing leadership capacity.
In the AWARD Program Monitoring meeting held on the 10th and 11th February 2020, AWARD fellows and their mentors met in Nairobi, Kenya, to evaluate the progress towards reaching their goals that they had set at the onset of the mentoring program in February 2019. The monitoring meeting focused in bringing all fellows and their mentors together to discuss the fellow’s achievements, challenges, opportunities and motivations behind fulfilling their missions.
In the course of the meeting, mentees, who were nominated by the AWARD fellow of cohort 2019, were welcomed in the AWARD family. According to the mentoring framework, a fellow who has been mentored for a year becomes ready to mentor a junior scientist as well, passing on her knowledge and skills to the next AWARD generation.
Through this mentoring, young female scientists are being trained in their skills of planning their future career, they are closely being assessed regularly how they approach their scientific goals. Further, the mentor should help the mentee to find a healthy balance between the job and family obligations, as many young African women are starting a family at the same time when they are given a chance to enhance their academic career.
Last year, i.e., in 2019, MS. Angela Mkindi, a CREATES student at the NM-AIST earned the Pan African AWARD fellowship for cohort 2. She had an opportunity to be mentored by a Professor in Biodiversity at the NM-AIST, Prof. Anna Treydte. In the 2019/2020 fellowship, other NM-AIST staff and students, namely Dr. Pavithrani Venkataramana (Lecturer in Sustainable Agriculture) and Ms. Mwanaisha Mkangara (PhD Candidate in Sustainable Agriculture, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management), respectively, also participated as mentors to other AWARD fellows. During the meeting, prices were given to the most successful mentees, who managed to attend various international conferences, conducted outreach activities, increased their networks, published scientific papers, presented in scientific, political or community forums – besides having children and other family obligations.
After the year of being mentored, Angela, as well as the other mentees, are now confident in mentoring a new fellow. For Angela, this will be Ms. Naelijwa Mshanga, a MSc graduate under the CREATES program at NM-AIST. Naelijwa has attended the mentoring orientation workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, between 12th and 15th February 2020.