Aspiring Arab women scientists graduate from ICBA’s regional fellowship program

In celebration of International Women’s Day, the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) organized today a special graduation ceremony for the second cohort of fellows of the Arab Women Leaders in Agriculture (AWLA) program at the Expo 2020 Dubai.

Launched on 8 March 2021 by H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the UAE, the second edition of AWLA brought together 16 women scientists from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and the UAE on a seven-month online program.

H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri said: “Women have the power to become active contributors to driving agricultural R&D. As they are disproportionately affected by global issues such as climate change and world hunger, empowering women to offer trailblazing solutions is a moral obligation, especially in this region. Inclusion and diversity are crucial for sustainable development and building a brighter future for all. The AWLA program is a shining example of unlocking women’s potential through education and training so that they can become changemakers in the face of stubborn challenges.”

Being the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), AWLA is designed to empower women researchers from across the region to spearhead positive changes in agriculture, food production and environmental sustainability while addressing the challenges they face in their careers.

H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Chair of ICBA’s Board of Directors, said: “Every year we celebrate International Women’s Day to bring into the spotlight the social, cultural and economic barriers that women face around the world. It is also an occasion to showcase women’s contributions and achievements in different fields, including science. In this regard, it is great to see how programs like AWLA create opportunities for Arab women scientists to boost their knowledge and confidence so that they can contribute more to scientific progress and socioeconomic development not only in their countries but also the wider region.”

AWLA serves as a platform for early- and mid-career women professionals across agricultural disciplines to exchange ideas and experiences and collaborate on various projects aimed at enhancing food, water and nutrition security in the region.

Dr. Tarifa Alzaabi, Acting Director General of ICBA, said: “Women’s role on the farm is crucial for food security globally. But their input in agricultural science and innovation is just as important as they can provide unique perspectives and insights. While women make up over 40 percent of the agricultural labor force and contribute around 18 percent to the overall GDP in the region, the proportion of women in research is very low compared to other parts of the world. Through our program, we aim to encourage more women to play an active role in agricultural science and innovation and support sustainable agricultural development and food security efforts in the region. We are delighted to see this cohort graduate from AWLA today and join our past 22 fellows to become part of a unique forum for women scientists in the region.”

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