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Established in 2008, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) was launched following a successful three-year pilot program in East Africa supported by the Rockefeller Foundation from 2005-2008.

AWARD is a career-development program that equips top women agricultural scientists across sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate agricultural gains by strengthening their research and leadership skills, through tailored fellowships. AWARD is a catalyst for innovations with high potential to contribute to the prosperity and well-being of African smallholder farmers, most of whom are women.

AWARD Fellows benefit from a two-year career-development program focused on fostering mentoring partnerships, building science skills, and developing leadership capacity. Following a highly competitive process, the fellowships are awarded on the basis of intellectual merit, leadership capacity, and the potential of the scientist's research to improve the daily lives of smallholder farmers, especially women.

To date, AWARD has received applications from almost 3,000 women for a total of 320 available fellowships. On average, only the top nine percent of applicants are selected each year.

Currently, 320 African women scientists from 11 countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia) have benefitted directly as AWARD Fellows.

AWARD partners with more than 200 organizations and institutions, including many national institutes of agricultural research.

We are also grateful for the many national, regional, and international research institutions, and other organizations, which have provided in-kind support.

AWARD offers one year of mentoring for all fellows. Mentoring is a proven and powerful driver for career development and particularly for retaining women in science. All of AWARD mentors are men and women in senior positions. They play a key role in influencing organizational culture about the important role of African women scientists. Many mentors report that they are becoming better leaders as a result of experience gained through AWARD.


AWARD offers a unique, well-tested career-development program. Fellows stay in their institutions and continue their research during the two-year fellowship, which includes:

Fostering Mentoring Partnerships

  • AWARD pairs each fellow with a mentor—a senior professional, carefully chosen to match the fellow’s area of expertise and career goals. In the second year of the fellowship, all fellows pass on their knowledge by mentoring junior women scientists, thereby providing an opportunity to practice leadership skills.

Building Science Skills

  • In addition to building science skills through their mentoring partnerships, fellows may either attend a science conference to present their research and to network with experts in their respective fields or they may have chosen to receive a laptop instead. AWARD Fellows also receive support to join a professional association of their choice, and training on how to access electronic science libraries during the AWARD Science Skills Course. In addition, AWARD Fellows also receive a monthly newsletter and can access a special area of the AWARD website created for them.
  • All fellows choose to either attend training on research proposal writing or science writing as part of the science skills course. This course also covers communications and presentation skills. Post-master’s and post-doctoral fellows have an additional option of competing for advanced science training either in the form of a three- to nine-month research attachment hosted at world-class facilities or a short science course of a renowned training provider.

Developing Leadership Capacity

  • AWARD is explicitly designed to help African women in agricultural science increase their visibility and to empower them to serve as champions of rural women. Through AWARD’s tailored leadership courses, fellows learn to navigate organizational gender issues, leverage team talents, manage conflict, and use influence appropriately.
  • AWARD Fellows with post-bachelor’s degrees attend the AWARD Leadership Skills Course; those with post-master’s or post-doctoral degrees attend the AWARD Women’s Leadership and Management Course. Fellows also practice their leadership skills through role-modeling events designed to inspire girls and young women to consider careers in agricultural science.

AWARD is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and the Agropolis Fondation. AWARD is a preferred service provider of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and is hosted by the World Agroforestry Centre.

We are also grateful for the many national, regional, and international research institutions, private corporations, and other organizations that have provided in-kind support.

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