Nozomi Kawarazuka: Championing Gender Equality in Agriculture

Nozomi Kawarazuka, the inaugural recipient of the Barbara Wells Award, stands at the forefront of gender transformative research within the International Potato Center (CIP) and the CGIAR community. As a feminist anthropologist, Nozomi’s journey has been defined by her unwavering commitment to uncovering and dismantling invisible gender barriers that persist within agriculture, particularly those disadvantaging women farmers. 

Challenges have been abundant in Nozomi’s path. However, the late Dr. Barbara Wells’ appreciation and trust in her work gave Nozomi the courage to pursue her professional career at CIP. Now, she holds leadership roles in gender-transformative interdisciplinary research initiatives, embodying Dr. Wells’ legacy of empowerment. 

With science and social science degrees under her belt, Nozomi has been a catalyst for collaboration between biophysical scientists and social scientists, advocating for interdisciplinary approaches as the key to achieving lasting impacts on gender equality. Her efforts include establishing Gender and Plant Health Regional Research Networks and leading the gender cluster in the Roots, Tubers, and Bananas (RTB) program. 

Nozomi’s dedication extends beyond research, as she actively supports and mentors young scientists from the global south, integrating gender into their work and offering scholarships to marginalized girls in Vietnam to pursue education. Additionally, she mentors young female researchers, acknowledging the challenges they face in their careers. 

“Nozomi Kawarazuka’s dedication to advancing gender transformative research exemplifies the spirit of Dr. Barbara Wells’ legacy,” said CIP Board Chair Helen Hambly. “She embodies the values of leadership, innovation, and commitment to gender equality that we hold dear at CIP. Nozomi’s work not only contributes to the empowerment of women farmers but also inspires future generations of scientists to follow in her footsteps.” 

Her motivation for applying for the Barbara Wells Award goes beyond personal recognition; it’s about paving the way for future generations of scientists dedicated to gender equality. Nozomi plans to utilize the award to support biophysical scientists from the global south, contributing to gender equality initiatives at CIP and empowering women through practical interventions like providing loans for water-pumping machines in West Bengal. 

Throughout her eight years at CIP, Nozomi has witnessed the resilience and determination of women farmers striving for economic independence. Her work is not just about research; it’s about making a tangible difference in women’s lives, empowering them to achieve their full potential. 

As Nozomi continues her journey, she remains committed to inspiring and mentoring young female scientists, ensuring that Dr. Wells’ legacy lives on through her impactful contributions to gender equality in agriculture. 

Nozomi Kawarazuka exemplifies the Barbara Wells Award’s spirit, embodying leadership, innovation, and dedication to gender transformative research. Her unwavering commitment inspires us all, reminding us that the journey towards gender equality is a collective effort worth pursuing tirelessly.