Members of the Africa Women for Biosciences (AWfB) have vowed to rally behind biotechnology as they advocate for an efficient and effective policy environment. The network, comprising of women with an interest and passion in science, technology and innovation, said this during a biosafety communication training workshop held between 25th – 26th January 2018, in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop aimed at equipping AWfB’s members with effective communication and media engagement skills, in order to diversify voices advocating for the technology in Kenya.
The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation’s (KALRO) Deputy Director General, Dr. Felister Makini acknowledged that the greatest challenge faced by scientists is communication. She added that it is crucial for the public to understand scientists and the work they do in order to remain invaluable in society. Dr.Makini emphasised the need for more communication trainings that will enable women scientists to engage the people around them on biotech crops, adding that their place in society can help address fears surrounding the technology. “We need the public to give science a chance to thrive, an environment where we can operate” she remarked. “Women’s voices will play a fundamental role towards unlocking some of the barriers blocking important technologies such as modern biotechnology.”
ISAAA AfriCenter’s Director Dr. Margaret Karembu encouraged participants to contribute to the government’s ‘Big-Four’ action plan towards economic development, adding that members of AWfB were in a unique place to do this. Dr. Karembu added that biotechnology can make a significant contribution towards the government’s effort in meeting its strategic plan in food security, manufacturing and housing, and urged the women to acquire necessary skills that will ensure their voices are heard.
The workshop, organised by ISAAA AfriCenter and the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) – Kenya chapter, was attended by over fifty (50) women in research, academia and policy. Participants were taken through the principles of effective biosafety communication, how to develop messages that will resonate with their audiences, as well as how to engage with the media and use social media for policy advocacy