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February 15th, 2018 / B4FA.org

This week, the world celebrated the annual United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which supports the achievement of “full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, [as well as] gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.” According to the United Nations, “Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a lot of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science. Unfortunately, women and girls continued to be excluded from participating fully in science.”

An opinion piece written by Kenyan agricultural researcher Jemimah Njuki quotes a recent study by the International Food Policy Research Institute stating that in 2014, only 24 percent of African researchers working in the agricultural sciences were women, and only 17 percent of those in leadership positions were women. “This matters because the evidence shows that better jobs for women in agriculture lead to higher wages and greater decision making — which ultimately has a positive impact on the ways households spend money on children’s nutrition, health and education. Having more women in agricultural research also ensures that this workforce is representative of its client base: smallholder farmers, the majority of whom are women,” writes Njuki. She calls for an increase in mentoring, support for organizations such as African Women in Agriculture Research and Development and setting explicit targets for mentoring, fellowship and other capacity-building programs for agriculture.

Meanwhile, South African researcher Ndoni Mcunu writes about her personal journey to shed light on why there are so few black African women in science, highlighting the cultural norms still in place discouraging women from entering STEM-related fields. The problem is not interest, writes Mcunu, who researches methods to improve food production for sub-Saharan Africa in the face of climate change. “There is a ‘leaky pipeline’ that sees women complete undergraduate science degrees – and then leave academia rather than pursuing postgraduate qualifications. This means that black women lecturers in the sciences in South Africa’s academy have the lowest representation. Fewer lecturers ultimately mean fewer professors – the most senior, admired and respected in their academic disciplines. In an environment like this, young black female scientists feel isolated and misunderstood.”

Elsewhere, Esther Ngumbi’s article “I didn’t think there were many African women scientists. Then I checked Twitter” offers a ray of hope, highlighting an array of African women scientists active on social media. Still, she calls for more momentum-building via an inventory of African women scientists using crowdmapping, forming an annual gathering for African women scientists, creating awards to recognize women’s achievements and continuing to raise their profiles.

We at B4FA are also committed to this effort. Please help us by sending us stories of African women scientists’ achievements, particularly those who are working at the forefront of biosciences in African agriculture. We want to hear from you!

As ever, we welcome questions, comments and story links to [email protected]. Please also visit B4FA.org for further reading and useful resources – and follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with daily news and join the conversation. We look forward to hearing from you!

Headlines

Wait nearly over for Golden Rice release in Bangladesh
UNB

Temperature resilient crops now an “achievable dream” say authors of new study
John Innes Centre

Scientists fear resurgence of devastating wheat disease in Britain and Europe
Thomson Reuters Foundation News

Ag-bio news

Global warming could cause key culinary crops to release seeds prematurely, say researchers
Global Plant Council

Chemical could boost crop yields by triggering gene to add branches and fruits
Genetic Literacy Project

€5.5M National Alliance for Food Fortification launched
The Point

US pledges support for biotech in Nigeria
New Telegraph

These scientists are on a bold mission to save chocolate
NBC News

Can an obscure rice gene save the rainforests?
Alliance for Science

Best practice

Road map to unleash irrigation potentials
AllAfrica

Biodiversity

DNA story of when life first gave us lemons
BBC

Climate change and the environment

Climate change is impacting production of beans in Uganda
AllAfrica

How climate change is fueling innovation in Kenya
Smithsonian Mag

Development

Opinion: We need to involve more women in the agricultural sciences. Here’s how. 
Devex

A personal journey sheds light on why there are so few black women in science
The Conversation

I didn’t think there were many African women scientists. Then I checked Twitter
NPR

Today is International day of Women in Science! Read how the work of women scientists & researchers at CCAFS is helping women and girls achieve food security, improve livelihoods, and create a more equitable world
CGIAR

Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT), an NGO, has underscored the need for policies in the agriculture sector to be responsive to gender
Graphic Online

Why is Africa still hungry?
The Star

Agriculture fraternity in key meeting
AllAfrica

Coffee conference to boost Uganda’s targets
AllAfrica

African reality show trains youths in farming
CS Monitor

Development experts & political leaders agree that Africa Agriculture has the potential to feed the continent & spur socio-economic growth. The key to Africa’s Food Security lies in smallholder Farmers
Biz Community

Agrihouse Foundation launches AG-STUD Africa Boot camp 2018 to develop capacity among agricultural students
Ghana News Agency

Zambia among three African countries targeted by Japan for agricultural development
Lusakatimes

Irish agri-food companies sought for African partnership programme
AgriLand

“Yes and” collaboration at the Symposium on Irrigation in African Smallholder Farming Symposium
Relief Web

African development bank urges shareholders to increase capital
NBE

Opinion: We can make agricultural work attractive for Africa’s youth. Here’s how
Devex

Don urges govt. intervention in development of African breadfruit plantations
World Stage

Morocco’s OCP Africa: Blueprint for an African Green Revolution?
Morocco World News

Energy and innovation

Founder of iCow Su Kahumbu gives a TED talk about how tech innovation is preventing childhood stunting in Africa
TED

The UK space firm to support Kenyan coffee farmers
African Farming

Govt may adopt digital tech to reach small-scale farmers
AllAfrica

Greenhouses technology to help increase agricultural production
AllAfrica

Automated weather stations to help Ethiopian herders
African Farming

Food security

Poor rains and crop infestation threaten deeper hunger across Southern Africa
AllAfrica

Uhuru’s ‘Big Four’ plan: How to grow more food for a growing population
Daily Nation

Thousands face hunger in some Southern Malawi districts
AllAfrica

Food security – local rice production to the rescue
The Nation

Innovate or urbanites will perish from hunger
Standard Digital

Pests and diseases

Uganda: Fighting plant pests
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

This parasitic plant hijacks its victim’s genes
Futurity

The GM debate

Exclusion labels, science denial, boneless watermelons and $8 burritos
Kevin Folta

Is there a difference in the toxic effects of glyphosate versus herbicides like Roundup that include surfactants?
Genetic Literacy Project

Will new regulations stifle innovation in plant and animal breeding?
AgriPulse

GMO labeling emerges as hot-button issue in organic and conventional food industry fights
Genetic Literacy Project

Politicians should listen to scientists: Nobel laureate
India Today

Partisan divide erupts on glyphosate-cancer science as IARC supporters push ‘Monsanto Papers’ narrative
Genetic Literacy Project

How consumer-friendly GMO foods could change minds about biotech crops and animals
Genetic Literacy Project

Burkina Faso is moving forward with GMO research
Alliance for Science

De Castro MEP: New plant breeding techniques are nothing like ‘Frankenstein’ GMOs
EURACTIV

International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) declares new genetic engineering techniques not compatible with organic growing
Garden Organic

Opportunities

Opportunity: PEER Women in Science mentorship program
RUFORUM

Gathering of the African private sector AFRICA CEO FORUM: theme “African Champions: Powering Competitiveness”. 26 & 27 March 2018, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Africa CEO Forum

8th Africa Nutritional Epidemiology Conference (ANEC VIII), “Multi-stakeholder nutrition actions in Africa: translating evidence into policies, and programmes for impact”, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,1st – 5th of October, 2018
ANEC

Tropentag 2018: conference on food security, natural resource management and rural development in the tropics. 17-19 September 2018, Ghent, Belgium
Ghent University

Resources

Agriculture in Africa – Telling myths from facts
Science Direct

Malnutrition in all its forms affects all countries. Watch this presentation of “Nutrition and food systems—A report by The High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE)”
IFPRI