Career Fellowship Supports Ethiopian Women to Enhance Agri-Food Policies. The second cohort of the Gender Responsive Agriculture Systems Policy (GRASP) African Women announced a fellowship in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). The two-year career development program aims to establish a pool of capable and self-assured African women in the middle of their careers who can lead policy changes to enhance the livelihoods of African smallholders, particularly women.
The 50 Fellows, who are from six Anglophone and Francophone African nations (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Senegal), work in a range of organizations, including government, education, NGOs, and the commercial sector. The majority of them are involved in the social sciences.
According to a statement provided to Addis Standard, the chosen candidates all have at least ten years of experience working on agricultural and food policy at the national, regional, or continental levels. These women are well-positioned to contribute to improved, evidence-based policymaking, a fundamental goal of the program, as a considerable proportion of them (18) hold governmental positions.
“Some Fellows from the same organizations as those from Cohort One are included in this year’s selection, including the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). According to AWARD, the development of teams that can support policy change within businesses or in specific policy sectors is lauded as having progressed as a result of this.
The goal is to create a pool of expertise among women who can support one another in influencing and fostering policy change. Many Fellows—11 and 13, respectively—come from Madagascar and Ethiopia.
The GRASP Fellowship: Why?
While there has been some progress, there are still significant gender inequities in agrifood systems, according to a new FAO report, The Status of Women in Agrifood Systems, which was released this year. The report also emphasizes the necessity of stepping up efforts to change agricultural policies to ensure that they expressly target gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The GRASP Fellowship focuses on fostering gender-responsive policies to close gender gaps in agrifood systems: “At AWARD, one of our goals is to support women in becoming effective leaders of agricultural research for development agendas as well as to promote an enabling environment for equitable agrifood systems. According to Dr. Susan Kaaria, Director of AWARD, “The GRASP Fellowship provides women in Africa with unmatched opportunities and is developing a growing pool of women who are technically competent to lead policy processes and decisions that consider the distinctive experiences of women and men smallholders.
The 50 women chosen for the GRASP Fellowship will receive specialized instruction in mentoring, advanced leadership abilities, negotiating techniques, gender in agriculture policy, and masterclasses on policy procedures. The recipients will also get access to networks and catalytic funding, which will help them lead the transformation of agriculture in Africa by integrating gender into policy processes.
Each Fellow has been paired with a senior policy professional who will act as a mentor, and later on in the Fellowship time; each Fellow will choose a junior policy professional to mentor. The group will receive support to participate in organized mentoring programs to promote knowledge exchange and the creation of Policy Innovation Projects that will give them firsthand experience working together to design gender-responsive policies.