On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, CORAF organized a webinar on the theme “Women in Scientific Leadership in West and Central Africa: Their Inspiring Stories”.  This event brought together around 100 participants to discuss the crucial role of women in agricultural research.  The webinar featured women leaders in agricultural research as panelists sharing their experiences, highlighting the crucial importance of women’s inclusion in the agricultural sector.

Panelists included Prof Aichatou ASSOUMANE, Director General of Research and Innovation at the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation of the Republic of Niger; Prof. Aïssatou Dramé YAYE, President of the Scientific and Technical Committee of CORAF; Prof. Mauricette OUALI N’GORAN, Vice-President of the Scientific and Technical Committee of CORAF; Prof. Fonteh Florence ANYANGWE, Secretary General of the Scientific and Technical Committee of CORAF; and Dr. Mariam Maiga, Regional Gender and Social Development Advisor of CORAF.

“It is important to include women in the agricultural sector because their involvement is essential to achieve food security in Africa,” said Dr Angela MORENO, President of the CORAF Board of Directors in her introductory remarks at the webinar.  This statement set the tone for the discussions that followed, highlighting the challenges and opportunities women face in agricultural research.

The contributions of the various speakers highlighted the crucial role of science and agricultural research in sector development, emphasizing the need for an inclusive and gender-sensitive sector.  Dr. Mariam Maiga from CORAF, in her intervention, advocated for the consideration of the specific needs of men and women in the development of agricultural technologies, emphasizing the importance of reducing the burden of work for women and adapting seed varieties to their preferences. “The aim is to facilitate women’s access to decision-making positions in the Agricultural Research and Development Systems,” Dr. Maiga emphasized.

She also shared data on CORAF’s commitment to women. The BIORISKS project, currently being implemented, has seen 38% of women benefiting from scholarships for postgraduate studies in sociology and virology in the project’s implementation countries, also trained in scientific writing and leadership. Another ongoing CORAF initiative, the ABEE project, has promoted the recruitment of 40% women technicians in varietal selection, to name a few.

Prof. Aissatou Yayé Dramé’s contributions highlighted the challenges women face in their professional journeys, particularly the obstacles related to balancing family life and a scientific career. She emphasized “the importance of promoting equal opportunities in the agricultural sector by implementing measures such as open days, community gardens, and special scholarships for female scientists.”

This webinar was an opportunity to share the experiences of women leaders in research with participants. The discussions and recommendations from this webinar organized by CORAF will serve as inspiration to strengthen the engagement of women and girls in this agricultural research.