About 500 delegates from different countries across the world have converged at UCC for the Regional Forum for Agriculture (RUFORUM) 15th Annual General Meeting.
The theme for the 15th AGM is Delivering on Africa's Universities Agenda for Higher Agricultural Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (AHESTI): What will it take?
Activities for Day One
Day one of the five-day programme witnessed six sessions which were held concurrently held at different venues on UCC campus. Sessions for the day included Symposium for Forum for Women Vice-Chancellors in Africa, Fostering Global Partnerships for Higher Agricultural Education and Research in Africa, and Meeting for Indigenous Chicken AUC Research team Others included Skills Enhancement Training for Post-Doctoral Fellows and Emerging Scientists and Scientific Data Management Training for PhD students, Proposal Development, Scientific Writing and Presentation Training for Master students and official opening of Exhibition and Poster Sessions.
Opening the session for Forum for Women Vice-Chancellors in Africa (FAWoVC), the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Mrs. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, said the growing concern regarding the lack of women in senior or leadership positions in all spheres of human endeavour, particularly in higher education, and more specifically in science and technology across Africa cannot be overemphasised. She noted that despite the widespread introduction and implementation of equal opportunity policies in higher education, women continue to face numerous impediments in reaching senior positions in academia. “This can be attributed to the endemic sociocultural and systemic barriers that many female academics face in universities across the world.
Mrs. Botchway said in spite of the challenges that continue to confront many women across universities in Africa in general and Ghana in particular, various studies have shown that female academics have learnt to take the challenges in their strides and find ingenious ways of overcoming them. “In Ghana, for instance, we can boast of many female firsts; first female Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellors and scientists in our universities among others” she mentioned.
Women in Agriculture
Touching on agriculture, she indicated that women were an integral part of the agriculture value chain farming and harvesting in the field; rearing of animals; agro-processing, marketing; policy formulation, and research and development. She, therefore, called for the need to recognise the contributions of women and mainstream them into policy formulation and implementation.
She mentioned the African Union’s Agenda 2063 which provides some policy guidance in gender-related issues. “ Aspiration six of the Agenda provides that the African woman will be fully empowered in all spheres, with equal social, political and economic rights, including the right to own and inherit property, sign contracts, register and manage businesses” she stressed.
Africa Showing Leadership in Women Empowerment
The Minister was excited that globally Africa was showing leadership in women’s empowerment adding that “So FAR 36 countries have ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which outlaws discriminatory laws and guarantee equality in the fields of health, employment, and education”.
Whiles efforts were being made to strive for women empowerment in Africa, Mrs. Botchway called for attention for a more holistic approach, taking into account a much broader perspective to avoid pitting women against men. “Our effort should be aimed at encouraging both sides to work together to address gender-based inequalities. We must seek to develop policies and strategies both at the regional and national levels towards increasing women participation in decision-making and leadership in higher education on the continent and in our individual countries”
Make a Difference in the Lives of African Women and Girls
The Minister urged the FAWoVC to make a difference in the lives of African women and girls saying, “You have the exposure, adequate policy guidelines both regionally and globally, and the requisite political support to push the boundaries to help us all to achieve the Africa we want”.
FAWoVC Symposium Theme
The theme for the FAWoVC for the AGM is “Enhancing Women Participation and Leadership Role in Africa’s Universities Agenda for Higher Agricultural Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (AHESTI): Key Ingredients for Success. The Session was chaired by the former Vice-Chancellor of UCC and former Minister for Education, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang. Speakers at the session were the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Dora Francisca Edu-Buandoh, Chairperson of FAWoVC, Prof. Mary Okwakol, former Vice Provost, Cornell University, USA and Vice-Chancellor of Busitema University, Uganda.
Present were the Chairperson of UCC Governing Council, Mrs. Nancy Thompson, members of FAWoVC and some past Vice-Chancellors of universities in Africa and European countries.
Fostering Global Partnership for Higher Agricultural Education & Research in Africa
At the session for Fostering Global Partnership for Higher Agricultural Education and Research in Africa, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Ghartey Ampiah gave the opening remarks whiles a representative of the Minister for Food and Agriculture presented the keynote address. Other speakers included the Executive Secretary of RUFORUM, Dr. Florence Mayega Nakayiwa, Director General of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr. Victor Agyeman and Executive Director, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo.