Women in Research and Innovation Webinar

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Enhancing the Africa landscape for women in research and innovation

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DATE – Thursday, July 29th 10.00 BST (UK TIME)


Venue: Microsoft Teams Webinar - Join HERE


The importance of innovation in Africa is linked to the predictions of key institutions such as the African Union (2015) and some scholars (e.g. Ratten, 2020) who see innovation as one of the crucial factors necessary for Africa to achieve future success and solve its developmental challenges. For this to happen, serious efforts must be made to find new and inventive ways to improve living standards on the continent. Presently, the Association of African Universities (AAU) has been championing university-industry collaboration by organising workshops for university leadership to promote linkages between academia and industry (Mensah et al, 2019). Fundamentally, it is anticipated that the recursive interactions among these key actors, namely the university in charge of knowledge production, particularly through research; the industry representing knowledge users in various sectors of the economy who are responsible for innovation; and the government which exercises control and supports the interactions (Mêgnigbêto, 2013) is crucial to the development of African innovation systems.

Yet, despite the ‘openness’ of universities, government and businesses, these institutions are also deeply embedded in patriarchal systems that determine who participates in knowledge creation and exchange, what entrepreneurial activities are permitted, what markets are to be generated, and how resources will be mobilized (Pollitzer & Schraudner, 2015). The African Union has indicated in its Agenda 2063: The Future We Want for Africa: that “No society can reach its full potential, unless it empowers women and youth and removes all obstacles to women’s full participation in all areas of human endeavours. Africa must provide an enabling environment for its women, children and young people to flourish and reach their full potential” (African Union Commission, 2015, p.12). It is therefore important to discuss and explore the structures that enable and/or constrain women’s participation in research settings in Africa (both as researchers and research subjects).

A big part of the innovation for socioeconomic development plan will be achieved if a strategy for women-sensitive inclusive research and innovation can be realised in tandem with the Agenda 2063. Female equality is an enabler of innovation effectiveness, in the sense that it acknowledges that society is gendered, and women and men bring different perspectives to problems (Lee & Pollitzer, 2016). Essentially, Africa’s “full potential” cannot be achieved if we fail to recognize and respond to women’s needs which are different to those of men or include them in the entire research and innovation agenda.

As part of its objectives to promote this gender dimension of research content and innovations produced in Africa and to create a network of women researchers and innovators, the Women Innovators Network in Africa (WINA) was formed as a multi-cultural and multi-gender network that revolves around female leadership and networking. The network aims to provide peer support (mentoring) and leadership support (coaching and training) for emerging leaders across Africa. The network will also address the following objectives:

• To improve the visibility of the African female innovators i.e. putting the highlight on women leaders who are achieving great feats in Science, Technology, Economics, Mathematics, and Management (STEMM);

• To provide peer support (mentoring) and leadership support (coaching and training) for emerging female leaders, particularly in the water economy; and

• To identify and affiliate with organizations that have similar interests to push the WINA agenda.

The objectives of the Webinar therefore include:

1. To highlight the UK Government-funded Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) 7 Million Pounds RECIRCULATE project and the WINA Project progress so far in Africa.

2. To explore the challenges and opportunities for women researchers and innovators in Africa through case studies.

3. Encourage knowledge exchange between different African countries especially in relation to women in research and innovation issues

4. To provide an opportunity for current and new stakeholders in different African countries to develop future collaborations, investments and development work around the area of women, research and innovation.

Brief Programme

10.00 – 10.10 Introduction of Participants/Stakeholders (Moderated by Dr Akan Odon Lancaster University, UK)

10.10 – 10.20 Introduction to RECIRCULATE (Prof Kirk Semple, Lancaster University, UK)

10.20 – 10.35 Research and Innovation – The WINA Experience (Afua Owusu-Kwarteng, WINA Coordinator, Lancaster University Ghana)

10.35 – 10.50 Research and Innovation in Agriculture – A Nigerian Case Study (Dr Patience Opata, Senior Lecturer, University of Nigeria, Nsukka)

10.50 – 11.05 Stakeholder Interaction (some questions on mentimeter)

11.05 – 11.20 ICT and Women Innovators – A Botswana Case Study (Dr Othapile Dinakennyane, Lecturer Botswana International University of Science and Technology BIUST)

11.20 -11.35 Entrepreneurship in Research (Dr Queeneth Kingsley-Omoyibo, Senior Lecturer, Igbinedion University Okada Nigeria)

11.35 – 11.50 Stakeholder Interaction (some questions on mentimeter)

11.50 – 12.00 Q/A and Wrap Up


African Union Commission (2015). Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. Retrieved from:

Lee, H., & Pollitzer, E. (2016a). Gender in science and innovation as a component of inclusive socioeconomic growth (2ed). London, UK: Portia Ltd.

Mensah, M.S.B., & Enu-Kwesi, F., & Boohene, R. (2019). Challenges of Research Collaboration in Ghana’s Knowledge-based Economy. Journal of the Knowledge Economy, 10(1), 186-204.

Mêgnigbêto, E. (2013). Triple helix of university-industry-government relationships in West Africa. Journal of Scientometric Research, 2(3), 214–222.

Pollitzer, E., & Schraudner, M. (2015). Integrating Gender Dynamics into Innovation Ecosystems. Sociology and Anthropology, 3(11), 617-626.

Ratten, V. (2020b). Entrepreneurial ecosystems: Future research trends. Thunderbird International Business Review, 62(5), 623-628.

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