Arab women set to transform future of agriculture



A Dubai-based organisation has launched a fellowship for Arab women leaders in agriculture, a capacity building programme that aims to develop women researchers who can make a positive impact in their workplaces, communities and countries.



The Awla fellowship launched by International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) seeks to help Arab women researchers in creating innovative solutions for the sustainability and prosperity of the agriculture. A select group of promising Arab women scientists from across the Mena region have become the first fellows of the Arab Women Leaders in Agriculture (Awla) programme.The inaugural cohort includes 22 women scientists from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia.

The regional leadership and research development programme is also being funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and CGIAR Research Programme on Wheat. The 10-month programme will be delivered in Tunisia and the UAE and include three face-to-face learning modules and 12 research and development online courses.

Talking about the idea behind the programme, Dr Ismahane Elouafi, director-general of the ICBA said: "Awla programme facilitates knowledge exchange and networking among women researchers throughout the Arab region by empowering groups of women champions and building a critical mass of pathfinders, visionary leaders, and change agents."Through training and development, the programme will ultimately contribute to better and more women-centered solutions for improved food, water and nutrition security in the region including the UAE.

"Women-led contributions to agriculture, both on the farm and in the lab, are essential components of global food security. And programmes like Awla are important for mitigating structural causes of gender inequality and encouraging women to take an active role in scientific developments," Dr Elouafi added.

As part of the programme, Awla fellows will set up the first research and development forum in the Mena region to address pressing regional agricultural challenges and take part in the region's first networking platform for women researchers working across agricultural and food security-related disciplines.

The first edition of the programme began with an eight-day workshop in June 2019 in Tunis, Tunisia, involving mentoring orientation and positive leadership sessions. "The Awla fellowship is a huge opportunity for me to improve my skills and learn new tools to enhance my capability for leadership roles in the food and agriculture sector," said Dr Mounira Azouz, an Awla fellow from Algeria, who works as a food scientist at Algeria's National Institute of Agricultural Research.


Source: Khaleej Times