Walking the talk: Gender-responsive action with Éveline Compaore
By Éveline Marie Fulbert Windinmi Compaoré
Scientific Researcher, Institut de l‘Environnement et Recherches Agricoles (INERA), Burkina Faso
2018 AWARD Fellow
Dr. Éveline Compaoré, the daughter of farmers, was inspired to become a researcher after seeing the challenges that smallholder farming families face trying to make a decent income. Compaoré is studying rural sociology and the sociology of agricultural innovations to better understand and overcome the inequalities in access to innovations between men and women.
I grew up on my family’s smallholder farm in a village in Burkina Faso. Life was hard for my parents. They did not earn much even though they worked very hard. From a very young age, I would go with my dad to farmer field days to learn from visiting experts about the latest innovations in agricultural sciences, such as new breeds or pest and disease control. Yet, my mum, who is also a farmer, never got the chance to come along to these learning events. I was inspired to become an agricultural scientist to find solutions to improve rural family living conditions, especially for smallholder producers like my parents.
As a scientist, I must find the balance between meeting the demands of my work and the social demands of being a good wife and mother who always puts her husband and children first. When you need to work late or have a proposal to submit to secure funding for your research, this is not always easy. On top of that, as a woman scientist, I feel that I need to stay strong and competitive with my male colleagues if I am to advance my career. I have also learned that my research needs to speak on behalf of rural communities.
The AWARD Fellowship has taught me that everything is possible if I keep moving forward. I have also gained self-confidence both at work and in my research. I know I can make small changes that will bring significant results in farming communities.
AWARD has also given me chances to interact with other scientists and donors to expand my network. During my fellowship, I have become the head of my research unit, and I am trying to implement what I have learned about how important it is to support everyone on my team to be the best they can be. I am also part of the gender and diversity team working across four countries through the African Centre of Excellence. I am very much looking forward to undertaking future research to inform strategy and policy on gender and diversity issues in agricultural research.