Thanks to funding provided by the International Research Development Centre (IDRC), the Queen Elizabeth Scholars (QES) Advanced Scholars West Africa program (QES-AS-WA) at Carleton University officially launched April 2021. The QES-AS-WA support projects in West Africa that will inform progress on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with preference given to the integration of SDG 5 (gender equality).
Carleton University’s Institute of African Studies (IAS) is collaborating with placement partners—IMPACT, AIMS, CODE, Afro Canadian Chamber of Commerce (ACCC), and Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone—for this project. Philosophically envisioned in our African title for it, Wurin ta na yin rubutu (Hausa language, widely spoken in West Africa), meaning “her own room to write,” the project is wholly women centred as women may experience disadvantages in completing the requirements for the PhD and early career advancement due to institutional prejudice and cultural barriers to finding the time and space to work. Evidence from a British Council & DAAD-funded research (2018) shows low rates of completion of PhDs in Sub-Saharan Africa and inequities in terms of gender and limited alignment of engagement with industry, the private sector, and societal needs. Our project aims at the heart of these challenges as further described below. Methodologically, our coalition will, among others:
- form a governing committee to manage the selected outstanding early career and doctoral women candidates from West Africa to participate in the QES-AS-WA program.
- adopt an innovative bottom-up approach with scholars reached through social and professional media networks and competitively selected before soliciting institutional engagement with their home universities.
- host 11 short-term (35-60 days) and 6 medium term (61-120 days) scholars over 7 semesters from 2021- 2024 determined in consultation with our placement partners.
- facilitate co-creation of research proposals between the selected-scholars, Carleton facilitators and placement partners to suit the parties’ respective goals.
- innovatively deploy blended virtual coaching and in-person placement at West African partner offices and research sites starting as soon as Fall 2021.
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