IITA: We’re working Towards Gender-balanced Environment

Akanimo Sampson

Akanimo Sampson

Buoyed by the International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated globally every March 8, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) says it is currently working towards a gender-balanced environment.

The Institute says it recognizes and appreciates women’s achievements, efforts, and contributions to society.

The theme for this year’s celebration was Gender Equality Today For A Sustainable Tomorrow. During the celebration, IITA joined the BreakTheBias campaign with various activities, starting with a commemorative Walk for Purpose, followed by a physical and virtual hybrid event to discuss the theme for the year.

IITA Deputy Director General, Corporate Services, Hilde Koper, says IWD is celebrated to achieve gender equality and women empowerment. She stated that women have been at the forefront of change, adaptation, and climate change, hence they should be supported and given equal opportunities.

“IITA is striving for gender equality, and for us to achieve this, we have to understand and appreciate the differences of men and women’’, she said.

The Institute’s Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, mentioned that although IITA is still working to have an equal number of men and women, the quality of women in the Institute is extraordinary.

He shared the great works of women around him, including his wife, Mrs Charlotte Sanginga, who has been very supportive and has contributed significantly to his progress in life. He also talked about other women he has worked with, such as his past and present secretaries and communication personnel, who he fondly calls Chief of Staff.

“Most of these young ladies that worked with me were trained and have now risen to higher positions where they are doing a lot better’’, he said.

There were video presentations from the different IITA hubs across Africa—Eastern, Southern, Central, Sahel, Western Africa hub, and the IITA headquarters in Ibadan. Some of the presentations featured women sharing their thoughts about the IWD and what the theme means to them personally.

There were also drama presentations to showcase the work of CGIAR and IITA in giving women equal opportunities and how the organizations have benefitted from tapping into the potentials of women for increased productivity and towards their goal.

Women in various fields such as engineering, photography, security, and research, showcased their capabilities to emphasize that they can accomplish as much as men if given equal opportunity.

Some male staff also shared their thoughts about women and gender equality, encouraging IITA and CGIAR to create a friendlier environment for men and women to thrive and carry out their assignments with peace of mind. They acknowledged that women have so much to contribute; hence men should partner with and empower them.

IITA Molecular Geneticist Ranjana Bhattacharjee said, “every day should be a day for celebrating both men and women because none can exist independent of the other.” She appreciated everyone for coming out to celebrate women, especially Sanginga, who has been a source of inspiration to all staff in this journey.

“Thank you all and let’s keep supporting men and women equally’’, she added.

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