A celebration of the University of Edinburgh’s work to advance gender equality in science across Africa has been hosted by the Scottish Parliament.
The event, which was held on 29 October as part of the University of Edinburgh’s #AfricaWeek2019 celebrations, highlighted how the Roslin Institute, together with CTLGH, supports African women working in agricultural research and offers training to female scientists to deliver engaging school workshops in several African countries.
The activities aim to help address inequalities in the research community in low-and-middle income countries, in which women are underrepresented, with a detrimental impact on research.
At the event, Christina McKelvie, MSP Minister for Older People and Equalities, praised the importance of these efforts for Scotland and internationally.
A fellowship programme organised by African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), is helping to develop the scientific and leadership skills of female early stage career scientists across Africa.
Supported by the Roslin Institute, the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health and the John Innes Centre, the AWARD fellowship has reached over 530 women working in agricultural research in 300 institutions across Africa and beyond since it was established in 2007.
The Roslin Institute and CTLGH are currently hosting placements for two mini-AWARD fellows. Supported by BBSRC GCRF Stars programme, Ruth Bekele and Wude Tsega, both from the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research (EIAR) are spending a month in Edinburgh working with Roslin and CTLGH researchers to strengthen their own scientific skills and knowledge.
Speaking at the reception, Michele Mbo’o-Tchouawou, Deputy Director of the AWARD programe said:
“In sub-Saharan Africa, only around 30% of researchers are female and this percentage drops dramatically in senior and management roles.
Our vision is to establish a gender-responsive agricultural innovation system working towards agriculture-driven prosperity for Africa and I look forward to further collaboration with the University of Edinburgh to advance gender equality in science across continents.”
“We need more efforts to increase awareness, to forge interest in science, to build capacity and to increase the exposure of our fellows to different cutting-edge opportunities. All young girls need to be interested is for somebody to motivate them to think that science is something they can do, that they can succeed.”
Michele Mbo’o-Tchouawou – AWARD Fellowship
Training for African Schools
The African Schools Outreach Programme of the International Veterinary Vaccinology Network (IVVN), based at the Roslin Institute, provides scientists across Africa with training and resources to hold school workshops and inspire pupils to join the next generation of scientists.
Dr Nicola Stock and Jayne Quoiani, public engagement professionals at the Roslin Institute and Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre, received support from the programme to develop a new schools workshop, entitled ‘Rabies Lab’, and deliver training to female scientists from Nigeria, Zambia, Cameroon, Kenya and South Africa.
Equality Work Recognition
The Roslin Institute holds a gold Athena SWAN award – the highest category of the accolade – in recognition of its efforts to promote gender equality and address challenges for women in science.
The Athena SWAN Charter provides a framework for efforts at a local and a national level to support staff towards achieving their potential. Roslin is one of two departments in Scotland, and 12 across the UK, to hold a gold award.