Madrid, 2nd June 2020. The Women for Africa Foundation held a virtual meeting today, with the first ten researchers to benefit from the project FUERTES (Femmes Unies Ensemble dans la Recherche, la Technologie, l´Environment et la Science) [Women United Together in Research, Technology, Environment and Science]. This research and training project meant for Senegalese scientists substantially specializes in agricultural disciplines and is carried out in collaboration with the University of Sine Saloum El-Hâdj Ibrahima NIASS USSEIN) of Senegal, the Moroccan OCP Foundation and the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, in Marrakech, where the female beneficiaries will be trained starting this September.
The 10 beneficiaries of the first cohort of the program took part in a videoconference meeting whose aim was to gather their ideas and investigate how the training program can be better adapted to the needs created by the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The participants are four professors and senior researchers from the USSEIN University of Senegal: Fatou Ndoye, Nana Juliette Tagawende, Fatou Ndiaye, Khoudia Niang and Fatimata Ndiaye and six doctoral candidates from different Senegalese universities: Mbeugué Thiam, Marie Claver Ndébane Ngom, Absa Diakhate, Gnima Sagna and Olouwafêmi Mistourath Mama.
They all displayed their contentment and enthusiasm for being able to form part of this program and so did the president of Women for Africa, who mentioned that she is very aware of not only the difficulties that the Covid-19 pandemic has created for female researchers, depriving them of their space and means to work but also of the strength, tenacity and commitment of these scientists with their tasks and with society.
Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega is convinced that they will all contribute to creating a new agricultural concept that will not only deal with agriculture sustainability but will also help minimize the effects of the pandemic on food and nutritional security in Senegal and Africa in general.
And true to this, throughout the meeting, the project participants demonstrated that they are all committed to designing projects aimed at improving diet and ensuring proper nutrition for people especially in the coronavirus era, as well as a sustainability vision for the future.
They talked of improving farm productivity specifically nutritious food produce from cereals, extending knowledge to the rural economy, caring for groups that are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus, organic farming, making use of forgotten local resources, soil microbiology, the milk received by the women from Saint Louis and how to help them transform it into other diary products.
They also talked of the need for sustainable energy and locally produced food that can ensure continued supply to African households when borders are closed, as is the case today.
Applaudable and feasible objectives are the base of the FUERTES program, as well as leadership reinforcement, visibility and prestige of African women researchers and the work they accomplish in support of the development of their continent.
An important feature of this project which we all hope for is that the University does not continue being a male dominated territory, as one of the researchers at the meeting pointed out.