NGO launches new strategy to empower women in agricultural institutions

DAR ES SALAAM: THE African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) has launched its new five-year strategy, which among others, seek to empower women occupy leadership positions in agricultural research institutions, such as Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI).

AWARD Director, Dr Susan Kaaria stated that the new strategy, which was launched on Tuesday evening at the sideline of the ongoing 2023 Africa Food Systems Forum (AGRF 2023) in Dar es Salaam, will enable the AWARD partner with institutions that have demonstrated commitment to gender equality to influence their policies and practices to address gender issues.

“In the case of Tanzania, we have a fellowship which Tanzanians can apply. Our fellowship reaches Tanzanians, and other East African countries. My expectation is that in five years, it will bring more women in national agriculture organisations, such as TARI,” Dr Kaaria noted.

She said the AWARD recognises that institutions’ commitment to gender equality, along with positive external pressure for change are key success factors in institutional transformation.

“We will have policies that are more gender sensitive, institutions themselves will have policies that are gender sensitive…In Tanzania we have country chapter, also we have our alumni, we will make sure that we work closely with them so that they can effectively implement the strategy,” she added.

At this juncture, she praised Tanzania for showing commitment to prioritising the issue of women and youth in agriculture.

“I am so pleased to hear the minister for agriculture and the minister for livestock and fisheries speaking at the AGRF that Tanzania is prioritising women and youth, for me that is really wonderful,” she said.

What we learned

Dr Kaaria said: “The new strategy also intends to leverage on our alumni and country chapters as champions who can play a critical role in influencing institutional transformation.”

She said it is expected that the strategy will increase evidence on the cost of the gender gap in the agrifood systems, underscoring the case for promoting gender equality at all levels of the wider agrifood system.

Ms Ann Vaughn, Senior Advisor for Climate Change, Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, USAID, stressed commitment to continue supporting the AWARD in the next five years to make sure that they address some of the gender inequalities that are still happening.

“USAID and the US government is taking the issue of gender inequalities seriously. More investment from the private sector is needed in issues of gender equality, to partner these efforts,” she stated.

On his part, Dr Lateef Sanni, Chairperson of the AWARD Steering Committee, noted that the strategy has a lot of stakeholders’ consultation.

“There is value for investing in gender mainstreaming. We need to sustain our environment. when we walk together, we are going to address many problems, we need to sustain equality and opportunity,” he argued.

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