Empowering African girls/women, specifically in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is crucial to achieving Accelerated African Agriculture Growth and Transformation Goals (3AGTGs) and MDGs. Many women are discouraged from STEM professions from before high school. In most African countries, women make up close to 70% of the labor force in agricultural production – dominated by smallholder farming, which is characterized by a low level of mechanization, household risk management + entrepreneur spirit. Closing the gender gap in African Academies of Science, African Agricultural Economics Association, African Accounting profession, African Societies of Engineering and in African universities and technical colleges – where women are noticeably underrepresented -- is essential to Africa maximizing its natural endowments of agricultural production assets to feed itself and many others in the world. Beyond eradicating hunger, empowered women with STEM education can unleash a level of creativity in joint-product innovation for 3BL sustainable development (social, economic, environmental) including adaptation processes/tools to dampen the impact of Climate Change (CC) in Africa, and in other emerging market/developing/developed market economies.
Increased access to formal education at every life stage – especially of girl children – is the factor to best equip Africans with tools and understanding of the integrated economic/business/social/peace/security links between nutrition-education performance-community resilience-household income-increasing urban consumer demand for food and energy-the business of innovation and CC adaption processes/products-increasing national/regional/continental GDP in a manner that can withstand shocks (resilience). Diverse industries - early childhood education, integrating ICT/ smart phone technology for ag extension service and improved access to credit, education – depend on empowering African women and girls; and, is at the heart of opening opportunities for girls/boys/women/men members of the community to prosper. Wages, agricultural income and productivity – critical for reducing poverty and eradicating hunger – are higher when women involved in agriculture value-chain, receive a better education.
Almost half of the worlds’ out-of-schools girls, are in sub-Saharan Africa - the large gap between girls and boys persists, especially in rural STEM education. The AWARD Program forms the foundation of AWARD Fellows and Mentors in Nigeria creating NiWARD program. With Federal/State government partners, NiWARD is deploying its interventions portfolio to build capacity of local/rural/peri-urban/grass roots women, to increase their income + farm productivity via improved access to technology and finance. NiWARD, as a country-level program, will ensure that the “change value” of empowered Nigerian women scientists is embedded in Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA).