23 January 2023, Africa: Dr Monica Kansiime, Deputy Director, CABI Africa, has been awarded a Gender Responsive Agriculture Systems Policy (GRASP) Fellowship aimed at improving policy process in agri-food systems.
African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) has bestowed the honour upon Dr Kansiime as part of the first cohort of 50 African mid-career women who will now embark on a two-year career development programme.
The GRASP Fellowship, featuring policy practitioners from Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia, will help grow the pool of confident and capable African women to lead policy changes that can improve the livelihoods of millions of African smallholder farmers and increase food security.
To date, 617 women in agricultural research from 25 countries have been awarded, various AWARD Fellowships. These include those working in the private sector, non-governmental organizations and government agencies.
Dr Kansiime and the other cohort of GRASP Fellows will receive tailored training that will enhance their negotiation skills to lead and navigate policy processes, equip them to design and implement gender-responsive policies, and help build collaborative relationships for impactful policy outcomes.
Delivered by a team of experienced and dynamic AWARD trainers and partners, the immersive career development program will also provide catalytic funding to AWARD Policy Fellows to design innovative policy-oriented projects, known as Policy Innovation Projects (PIPs).
As Deputy Director for CABI Africa, Dr Kansiime is at the cutting edge of developing and delivering strategies that can deliver impactful programming within Africa’s farming systems.
This includes the global CABI-led PlantwisePlus programme – part of which is increasing the supply of safer food through enterprises driven by women and youth to meet growing demand by consumers in rural, urban and peri-urban markets.
Dr Kansiime said, “I am grateful to AWARD for this opportunity to expand upon my experience in policy development and implementation. The intention is to achieve a greater knowledge of policy analysis and integration, and an understanding of the differences between each gender and socio-economic groups.”
To foster knowledge and experience sharing while catalysing intergenerational networks, the GRASP Fellowship will entail a three-tiered mentoring process where each Fellow will be matched with a senior policy professional as their Mentor as well as a junior policy professional as their mentee.
The mentoring trio will be supported to form coalitions that will work on the PIPs which will provide hands-on practical experience in collaborating toward gender-responsive policy development in the agricultural sector.
Dr Susan Kaaria, Director, AWARD, said, “The latest State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 (SOFI) report revealed that while there is increased hunger globally, Africa is severely affected and more important to note is that there is a gender gap in hunger, with more women and children affected.
“That is why it is critical that we pay attention to how our agricultural policies address the needs of both women and men and how they enable equitable food systems.”
Dr Kansiime’s selected policy focus for the Fellowship is food safety, as she feels this is a key challenge faced by food production.
Dr Kansiime added, “I will look at underlying causes of food safety issues and how these can be addressed. For instance, food handling in the field, the use of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals, and post-harvest food handling. Food safety issues affect humans but also livestock and the environment.”
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