Dr Susan, what informs this initiative of $5m Fellowship for African women to be empowered in Agricultural and skill projects | today nigeria newspapers headlines updates

Exclusive Interview: USAID introduces $5million Fellowship Fund to empower Women in NIGERIA, Zambia, Malawi

Dr SUSAN Kaari, Director of Award

*Creating immediate opportunity for capable African women in agriculture, skills acquisition to lead policy changes, promote a more inclusive, gender-equitable agro-food system transformation

*Fellowship part of over $10 billion investment announced by the United States at the United Nation Food Systems Summit

*Ideal candidates are women working in agriculture, food systems with an interest in policy making, demonstrate rich knowledge in leadership role in policy development and implementation for agricultural development, food systems, and gender equality

SHE IS A HIGHLY celebrated African woman championing various leadership causes for women in research and policy development in the African continent. DR. SUSAN KAARIA, appointed Director of this fellowship Award and Senior Gender Officer in the Social Policies and Rural Institutions Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has through the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, introduced a great opportunity for African women from Nigeria, Zambia and Malawi with foundational experience in agriculture, food systems to benefit. In this interaction with GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU, AMERICAN Senior Investigative Editor for Naija Standard Newspaper, Africa’s most leading international online news medium in North America, No. 1 digital news publication platform in Nigeria, she discusses reasons behind the fellowship, why three African countries are first beneficiaries of fellowship, expectation for ideal chosen African women and many more:

NAIJA STANDARD: Dr Susan, what informs this initiative of $5m Fellowship for African women to be empowered in Agricultural and skill projects?

DR SUSAN: Africa’s agri-food systems clearly need transformation. This has been emphasized by the African Development Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy for Agricultural Transformation, which calls on African countries to pursue policies that will enable the continent to transform its agricultural production. However, agri-food systems must transform in ways that are equitable and inclusive.

By supporting African women working in policy, this Fellowship aims to promote a more inclusive and gender-equitable African agriculture, and to unlock the leadership potential of Africa’s women in agri-food systems transformation.

NAIJA STANDARD: How did the United Nations through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) receive funding for this noble project?

DR SUSAN: The Fellowship is part of a more than $10 billion investment that was announced by the United States at the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September 2021, which aims to promote food systems transformation.

NAIJA STANDARD: Why did you limit this rare opportunity open to women in Zambia, Nigeria and one other African country? Don’t you think the African countries could have been expanded to six bearing in mind that women in Africa in this 21st century are the backbone in families?

DR SUSAN: Whilst the Fellowship will initially be rolled out in three countries Malawi, Nigeria and Zambia, we will eventually open the Fellowship to women policymakers in other African countries.

NAIJA STANDARD: What are the yardsticks in determining the African women to win this fellowship?

DR SUSAN: The ideal candidates for the Fellowship are African women working in agriculture and food systems with an interest in policy making. The candidate will need to demonstrate how they have played a leadership role in policy development and implementation, particularly in projects at the nexus of agricultural development, food systems, and gender equality.

NAIJA STANDARD: Can you unveil the name of the judges who determine the African women winners in the fellowship? Will there be any African media personality among the judges?

DR SUSAN: The final selection will be done by a special expert panel composed of global experts in the fields of gender, agriculture, and food systems policies.

NAIJA STANDARD: What are the aims and objectives of your project in Africa?

DR SUSAN: The Fellowship targets up to 300 policymakers at different levels of their careers. The AWARD policy Fellows will be African women in their mid-careers with about 10 years of experience working in the policy arena. The mentors will be senior policy experts, and the Fellows’ mentees will be junior policy professionals in the early stages of their careers.

The GRASP Fellowship will foster mentoring partnerships and networks to catalyze cross learning between seasoned and emerging experts, incentivize collaborations for evidenced-based policies, and equip mid-career women with the skills to lead policy processes for improved livelihoods of African women and men smallholders.

NAIJA STANDARD: How will your Fellowship award bring development to Africa in the face of the challenges most women in the continent are facing daily?

DR SUSAN: Women make up just under half of total agricultural employment in sub-Saharan Africa, yet they face discriminatory national policies which inhibit their ability to provide food and livelihoods for their families and communities.

By targeting African women already working in policy with the networks and mentoring provided for by the Fellowship, we are aiming to develop more gender-inclusive policies for agriculture throughout Africa and promote the leadership of women as key agents of change in this area.

NAIJA STANDARD: How much will each of the winners be given after emerging tops in the Fellowship?

DR SUSAN: The GRASP Fellowship is a non-residential career development program that offers participants training and other opportunities to grow their skills, networks, and influence. The Fellowship does not give any monetary awards.

NAIJA STANDARD: How often will this fellowship be running annually?

DR SUSAN: The fellowship has been funded for three-and-a-half-years, and we will administer three rounds of open competition to select AWARD Policy Fellows.

NAIJA STANDARD: At the end of this fellowship, what lasting legacy will your projects be remembered for?

DR SUSAN: Our ultimate objective is to foster inclusive and equitable agri-food systems across Africa. We hope that the Fellowship will inspire a next generation of female policymakers across Africa, and that it will help to create a more level playing field in African agriculture, benefitting African women and men smallholders, and their families and communities.

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