Conference on Women in Science, Innovation & Development at Mekelle University

Fetien Abay – who co-coordinated the Indigenous Soil and Water Conservation (ISWC) work in Ethiopia which led to the development of Prolinnova–Ethiopia – continues to promote the role of women in innovation. Last week at Mekelle University, where she is Professor in Plant Breeding and Seed and recently appointed Vice-President for Research and Community Outreach, she organised the first International Conference on Women in Science, Innovation and Development. All the keynote speakers were women and almost all the presentations by young scientists were women. The large organising team consisted of both female and male staff of the university. Most of the booths at the marketplace for exhibits of innovation and enterprise in Tigray Region of Ethiopia were “manned” by women.

The conference was held in the new Mitiku Haile Hall, named after the founding President of Mekelle University and the co-coordinator of the ISWC work in Ethiopia, which started the university’s collaboration with female farmers innovating in Tigray Region. Mitiku chaired the first day of the conference.

The conference was a 3-day event (10–12 April) that celebrated the capacities and achievements of Ethiopian women in Ethiopia and abroad, ranging from women innovators in agriculture to leading women politicians. Among the participants was a high number of female students and staff from Mekelle and numerous other universities in Ethiopia and Sudan, who are now newly or more strongly linked for future collaboration in promoting gender equality in science, innovation and development.

Two members of the Prolinnova International Support Team were invited to join the conference – Chesha Wettasinha, who is currently coordinating a study on gender issues in local innovation and farmer-led participatory innovation development within the Prolinnova network, and Ann Waters-Bayer, who gave a presentation on “Women in transdisciplinary research: interacting with citizen’s science and innovation” (PPT and full paper).

A news report and photos on the event can be found here:

See also the Awramba Times 17-min video film on the event ( and the news film clip on CGTN (China):

Congratulations to Fetien and her team for holding this inspiring and very memorable event!

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