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Maternal Health Rights, Politics and the Law:Another Professorial Inaugural Lecture

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Professor Ben Kiromba Twinomugisha from the School of Law is yet another Law don to fulfil the University mandate of presenting an Inaugural Lecture.

April 28, 2017 marked yet another milestone in the academic achievements of the long serving Professor of Law when he delivered his lecture entitled: "Maternal Health, Politics and the Law"  in the Makerere University Main Hall.

During the lecture, Professor Twinomugisha also popularly known as Shokoro delved into a touching area of maternal health and sought to establish as to why the realization of Maternal Health Rights (MHRs) remains a theory despite the many interventions both by Government agencies, the civil society and many other players.

At the well-attended lecture, Prof. Ben Kiromba Twinomugisha emphasized that there is need to understand the nature and scope of Maternal Health Rights and how they can be realized in Uganda. His argument was based on the question, ‘Why do women continue to die while giving birth?’He urged the public to consider maternal health as a Human Right and noted that the state is obliged to respect and protect the MHRs.
The Chairperson Inaugural Committee- Prof. Elly Sabiiti (L), Acting Deputy Principal-School of Law-Dr. Ronald Naluwairo (2nd),Prof. Ben Twinomugisha (3rdL) receiving a certificate from Dr. Okello Ogwang after presentation of the inaugural lecture.
“Uganda is a party to international and human rights instruments that recognize maternal health rights (MHRs). It also has a Constitution and policy frameworks, which contain provisions with a bearing on MHRs.  In spite of the recognition of MHRs in legal and policy frameworks, realization of these rights remains elusive as evidenced by the alarming rates of maternal mortality and morbidity.”Said the charged law don while urging his audience to get charged and demand the enforcement of the right to Maternal Mortality by the duty bearers.

Hestated that the realization of MHRs remains elusive because the state, which has the primary responsibility to protect and enforce the  MHRs, relies on neo-liberal policies and criminal laws, which exalt private and class interests to the detriment of maternal health issues.  He added that it is not a mere lack of resources that explains non-realization of MHRs in Uganda, but absence  of political will to tackle the structural causes of maternal mortality and morbidity.

While explaining what he sees as the barriers to realizing MHRs in Uganda, Prof. Twinomugisha pointed out a list of interlinked areas such as poverty. He said because of low incomes many mothers cannot afford a number of formal and informal costs for facilities and services, drugs and equipment, transport to the health facility, quality and sustainable care. He said this is coupled with inadequate information and poor attitudes leading to delays to seek care and reaching health care facility. He also noted the lack of political will and focused leadership to marshal and direct the available internal and external physical, financial, human and other resources towards realization of MHRs. He noted that inequitable gender relations and negative customary as the other social factors affecting the realization of maternal health rights.

Recommending on how realization of MHRs can achieved, Prof. Ben Twinomugisha emphasized putting in place mechanisms to fight massive poverty and prioritizing MHRs of the poor; reversing the neo-liberal approach to maternal health and increasing budget for health by at least 15% as well as increasing human resource for maternal health, equipping health facilities and allocating more skilled health personnel to maternal health.

He further advocated for accelerating family planning and making contraceptive information available and accessible. He encouraged couples to discuss contraceptive options and called upon men to actively be involved in issues of maternal health care. He advised that the government should tax the privileged and wealthy and use the proceeds to fund social services such as maternal health care, employ a gender perspective in all policies, programmes and practices, and in all spheres of life including family and community. He added that public awareness and sensitization strategies should target both women and men to promote gender equity and a holistic approach to maternal health which is preventive and curative should be developed.

“In my view, in the long run, for actual and meaningful realization of MHRs to occur, there is need to build consciousness among masses so that they are able to engage in the struggle of emancipation. This struggle should be led by the working class  but also be embraced by the rural and urban poor women and men. The struggle should lead to a democratically reconstituted liberal pro-people socialist state that will promote an equitable distribution of resources and ensure that maternal health issues are prioritized in design and implementation.” Prof. Ben Twinomugisha concluded.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu, represented by Dr. Ernest Okello-Ogwang (Deputy Vice Chancellor-Academic Affairs) said that the life of an academician is demanding. In between the rigors of research, teaching and publishing, it is often easy to overlook the fact that they are also parents, guardians and mentors. He said that Prof. Twinomugisha has made tremendous contribution to the academia and legal practice, for which he is highly commended.

“Today, Uganda is faced with high rates of death arising from maternal related complications some of which are preventable. I am glad to note that in Maternal Health, Prof. Twinomugisha has picked a topic that is of great importance to the future of this nation, and yet so little is known about it. Our communities and the nation at large deserve and are eager to listen to the latest findings that can impact their lives.” The Vice Chancellor noted.The "Big Five" as Prof. Ben Twinomugisha referred to them pose for a photo with his wife(centre).

The Vice Chancellor further said that a great proportion of Ugandan population is either illiterate or underprivileged. These are often ill-informed about their rights and therefore suffer at the hands of duty bearers. As such, he said that they are not empowered to take up litigation as a way of redressing the social injustices meted upon their wives, sisters and mothers whose reproductive rights are abused.

While pronouncing Prof. Ben Twinomugisha as a full Professor of Makerere University on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Okello-Ogwang said that as a requirement for Makerere University academic staff, an inaugural lecture is held to commemorate the lecturer's appointment to full professorship. He further said that it is the perfect opportunity for the lecturer to share with their audience the contribution they have made to the body of knowledge and Prof. Twinomugisha had set a great precedent.

“Prof. Twinomugisha, without any doubt has distinguished himself and is recognized for his dedication to research, teaching and learning as well as creation of new knowledge. I hereby declare Prof. Ben Kiromba Twinomugisha a full professor of Makerere University” Dr. Okello-Ogwang pronounced.

Earlier, while delivering a citation about Prof. Twinonmugisha, Dr. Ronald Naluwairo, the Acting Deputy Principal-School of Law stated that the inaugural lecture was indeed a reflection of Prof. Twinomugisha’s tireless works of fighting for women’s rights. He described him as a dedicated and accomplished scholar and researcher whose works are analytically sharp, academically engaging, magnificently conceptualized, outstandingly researched and multidisciplinary.

“Today is a very great celebration as we honor Prof. Ben Twinomugisha whose great essence of teaching and learning exemplifies the issues of Makerere University as a community of scholars and teachers. He has consistently proved his academic versatility across a range of areas including commercial law, gender, environmental law, health law and human rights. His contribution to enhancing the University’s eminent standing, where making research, teaching and mentoring is commended.” Dr. Ronald Naluwairo remarked

Dr. Naluwairo elaborated that the teaching approach of Prof. Ben Twinomugisha is based on the five E’s: Engage, Explain, Exemplify, Emphasize and Empower. He added that the Professor established several developments by stimulating curiosity and independent learning and participating in effective guidance and mentorship of students. He commended him for his contribution towards the development of curriculum when he pioneered the teaching of Health Law at the School of Law, a very popular and relevant field of study today.

The Chairperson of Makerere University Inaugural Committee, Prof. Elly Sabiiti said that such professorial lectures are very relevant. Through them, a great deal of vital information is shared and it brings the image of Makerere University to the public. He thanked Prof. Ben Twinomugisha for the commitment he portrayed in sharing fundamental information through his professorial inaugural lecture.Collegues from the School of Law pose for a photo with Prof. Ben Twinomugisha and Dr. Ernest Okello-Ogwang.

 “It takes a long time to finalize this process. This is the second inaugural lecture addressing the issues of women and their rights. We want to put up this important material for everybody to access. It is therefore important for us as Makerere University and the nation at large.” The Chairperson mentioned.

Prof. Elly Sabiiti appealed to all colleagues to share information through such lectures and to motivate the young scholars to do the same. He thanked the School of Law for the pace set in giving professorial inaugural lectures and urged other colleges at the University to emulate the School. He also thanked the Inaugural committee which worked with the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor-Academic Affairs to make the lecture a success.

Prof. Ben Kiromba Twinogisha holds a Bachelor of Law of Makerere University, a Diploma in Legal Practice of Law Development Center, a Master of Law of Makerere University and a Doctor of Laws of Makerere University. He was the first person to attain a Doctor of Laws degree from Makerere University, which he obtained in 2005. In 2008, he was promoted to the rank of Associate professor and later to a professor in 2011, the rank which resulted to hisprofessorial inaugural lecture.

He has provided excellent leadership and rendered effective services to Makerere University and the society at large. He has served the University for over 30 years in different areas of responsibility with integrity including; Deputy Dean at the School of Law, Dean of Law, member of Makerere University Council, member of Makerere University Senate, member of Makerere University Appointments Board and a number of Makerere University committees.

The professorial inaugural lecture was attended by people from various capacities including; Makerere University staff, former chancellor-Prof. Mondo Kagonyera, former Vice chancellor-Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba, Members of Ugandan judiciary, legislature and other government officials, Makerere University students and the public.

Article by: Charles Iga-Mak News Reporter

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Rotary International President visits Mak

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The Chairperson of Council, Mrs Lorna Magara (L) presents a plaque to Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta in appreciation of his visit and invaluable service, 15th September 2021, CTF1, Makerere University.

By Hasifa Kabejja

Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta has appreciated Makerere University for supporting and carrying forward the newly introduced programme aimed at advancing peace on the African Continent. Launched in January 2020, the Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University runs a postgraduate diploma programme in Peace-building and Conflict Transformation. The hands-on program entails coursework that addresses topics including human rights, governance, and the role of the media in conflict. Other studies focus on refugees and migration, as well as resource and identity-based conflicts.

At a high level meeting held with the University leadership on 15th September 2021 at CTF1, President Shekhar Mehta said Rotary International was proud to be partnering with Makerere to promote peace on the African Continent. “The mere absence of war does not translate into total peace. Besides war, there are many other factors undermining peaceful co-existence. It is our duty to address these issues so as to create harmony in our communities. Through the Rotary Peace Centres across the globe, we are undertaking a number of initiatives aimed at promoting peace. Since 2002, the Rotary Peace Centres have trained more than 1,300 fellows who are working to advance peace in more than 115 countries. We are happy to work with Makerere University to foster peace and development on the African Continent,” he noted.   President Shekhar Mehta, who was on a three-day tour of Rotary projects in Uganda, was visiting Makerere for the first time since the University won the bid to host the International Rotary Peace Centre, the first of its kind on the African Continent.

President Shekhar Mehta, who was in company of past and current Governors of Districts 9213 and 9214, said peace was a necessary catalyst for the progress of humanity and general development of nation states across the globe. Elected for the 2021-22 term, President Shekhar Mehta, through his year theme Serve to Change Lives, asks Rotarians to participate in service projects where they can make a difference in their communities and the people who live in them. Since he joined Rotary in 1984 as a member of the Rotary Club of Calcutta-Mahanagar, West Bengal, India, President Shekhar Mehta has led many major service initiatives in India and South Asia, including among others, constructing 500 homes for Tsunami survivors at Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and starting the Shelter Kit programme in India which has served about 20 disasters and benefited about 75,000 disaster victims. 

Delivering her remarks, the Chairperson Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara appreciated Rotary International for entrusting Makerere University with the mandate to host the first rotary peace centre on the African Continent. “Choosing to house the Centre at Makerere University shows Rotary International’s trust and confidence in Makerere and her vision for building for the future. We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of Rotary International’s agenda. We also sincerely appreciate Rotarians all over the world who have committed funds to support the Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University,” she noted. Similarly, she appreciated The Rotary Foundation (TRF) of Canada for setting up an endowment fund for the Peace Centre. “This will go a long way in ensuring the sustainability of the Peace Centre at Makerere University. The fund will help in the Capstone week where Fellows will present their social initiatives. These initiatives will showcase how the Rotary Peace Centre contributes to positive peace initiatives all over the world.”

In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe informed the President that the decision to establish the first Rotary Peace Centre in Africa at Makerere University was welcomed with ‘excitement and gratefulness’. “We consider this to be a vote of confidence in our efforts in the peace and conflict resolution agenda. We extend our appreciation to Rotarians in Uganda and beyond for selflessly supporting this noble cause.” The Vice Chancellor appreciated the leadership of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere, and the Director of the Centre, Dr Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala for their tireless efforts in ensuring the centre achieves the intended objective.

By the end of this year, the Centre will have hosted two cohorts of peace fellows. The first cohort was at Makerere University between February and May, 2021. Currently, these Peace fellows are carrying out their peace initiatives in their communities. The second cohort will report on September 27, 2021. In both cohorts, Peace Fellows were chosen from 20 countries and by the end of the year, the Centre will have had a total of 36 Fellows.

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Intentionality Key to Nurturing More Women Leaders

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The "Enhancing Women’s Participation and Visibility in Leadership and Decision-Making Organs of Public Universities in Uganda through Action Research" Phase One Study dissemination poster for the event held on 14th September 2021, CTF1, Makerere University and Online.

The Gender Mainstreaming Directorate (GMD), Makerere University on 14th September 2021 presented findings from phase one of the study on Enhancing Women’s Participation and Visibility in Leadership and Decision-Making Organs of Public Universities in Uganda through Action Research. The study team led by the Director GMD and Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine also consists of Assoc. Prof. Consolata Kabonesa, Dr. Anna Ninsiima, Ms. Frances Nyachwo, Ms. Susan Mbabazi and Mr. Eric Tumwesigye.  

The team is also made of coordinators from participating Universities such as Busitema University-Ms. Elizabeth Birabwa, Kabale University-Sr. Dr. Eva Tumusiime, Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST)-Dr. Specioza Twinamasiko, Muni University-Ms. Amandru Stella Wawa, and Gulu Univeristy-Sr. Rosalba Aciro.

Funded by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), the study was inspired by the fact that women are persistently few in numbers as staff, more so in leadership and decision-making organs of Ugandan Public Universities. “This is despite all the various efforts at national and international levels; the numbers are not growing as fast as needed to meet development goals of the country” explained Dr. Euzobia.

Based on this background, the study team therefore sought to conduct a situational analysis of the gender terrain of the six public universities to obtain baseline information encompassing the composition of governance and leadership organs and senior staff by sex, as well as a needs assessment and profiles of potential mentors and mentees.

Furthermore, the team sought to explore the capacity to conduct gender-responsive research as well as the role of male staff engagement in gender equity interventions within the universities as the drivers of development.

Dr. Mugisha-Baine shared that results of the baseline would then be used to design participatory training manuals or guides on gender and leadership. The manuals would cover; Institutionalized mentorship, How to conduct gender-responsive research, gender and equity budgeting, among others.

The Director GMD, Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine
The Director GMD, Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine

 “Within these manuals, we shall have a male staff engagement strategy in gender equity interventions in universities” she explained.

The development of the aforementioned materials would then be followed by their adoption and use to build capacity for women not only in leadership of participating and other public university but also beyond. “We shall periodically evaluate whether the capacity we have built has influenced women’s participation in leadership and decision-making organs of the university” supplemented the PI.

The capacity building trainings for women, it is envisaged, will lay the foundation for the formation of a functional Uganda University Women’s Think Tank, starting with the six participating universities. Dr. Mugisha Baine added that through this Think Tank, a monitoring and tracking system for gender representation in recruitment, promotion, retention/turnover and leadership of public universities shall be established and maintained.  

At the conclusion of phase one, the study team had drafted participatory training manuals in gender and leadership with content on; gender specific critical analysis of the leadership spectrum of public universities, positioning of individual women within the institutional framework and strategies for their advancement, gender equity advocacy in the university setting, institutional mentorship, building capacity in conducting gender-responsive research, among others.

“This content will be validated by the participating universities before the actual research training is conducted” added the PI.

On behalf of the research team, Dr. Mugisha Baine thanked the Government of Uganda for providing the resources that facilitated phase one of the study and prayed that the Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC) would support the next phase of capacity building.

Speaking on behalf of the Mak-RIF GMC Chairperson, Prof. William Bazeyo, Dr. Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala thanked and congratulated the team led by the Director GMD upon the milestones registered in the critical research.

“We are very proud of that work that is being done by all researchers in Mak-RIF and we would like to most sincerely thank Management for all the support throughout this process” she remarked.

Dr. Nkabala encouraged the research team to continue disseminating and using the findings for the furtherance of gender mainstreaming, particularly through the aspect of male staff engagement in gender equity interventions.  

The Executive Director, NCHE, Prof. Mary Okwakol. Courtesy Photo.
The Executive Director, NCHE, Prof. Mary Okwakol. Courtesy Photo.

Prior to delivering the keynote address of the day, the Executive Director National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) Prof. Mary Okwakol thanked the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for inviting her to the important forum, noting that women’s participation in decision making and governance is a priority area of the Uganda Gender Policy 2007.  

She commended Makerere University for being at the forefront of gender mainstreaming in Uganda, noting that this prominence was one of the reasons why the Gender in Education Policy 2007 provides for replicating the institution’s strategy in all other Higher Education Institutions.   

Prof. Okwakol whose keynote address was punctuated incisive personal examples reaffirmed the statistics that women are generally not visible in leadership of Universities. That notwithstanding, in instances where they rise to leadership and decision-making positions, they are regularly subject to roles traditionally deemed as women’s inconsiderate of their managerial seniority and experience.

She nevertheless rallied the women to play their respective roles in enhancing participation and visibility at a personal level. The following were some of the strategies she proposed; work hard to acquire academic credentials so as to compete favourably with men, acquire necessary administrative training and experience, network among women, join professional networks as well as do research and publish.  

On joining professional networks, she shared her personal experience as a young zoologist who joined UNESCO’s Tropical Biology and Fertility Programme. “Within a short time I was appointed Coordinator for Africa and after two years, I was elected as a Member of the International Board of Management. After serving for two years, I became Vice Chairperson of that Board and finally I became Chairperson of that International Board.”

At the institutional level, Prof. Okwakol appealed to the Chairperson Council and Vice Chancellor to proactively recruit women who meet the requirements for leadership positions even if it means actively seeking out the reluctant ones. In this regard, she shared that it would be useful for the university to develop a database of women and their qualifications to ease this process.

She shared that NCHE has in recognition of female underrepresentation at every level in Higher Education approved the establishment of a Gender and Equity Unit with the aim of promoting inclusive gender participation in the sub-sector.

“This unit has been placed under the Directorate of Quality Assurance and Accreditation which implies that as we look out for and regulate quality, gender will be a very important aspect of that regulation” she reassured.

Prof. Okwakol concluded by urging participants to read the; Third National Development Plan (NDPIII), Uganda Vision 2040, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) noting that there is no way all three can be achieved while women are left behind because they each make a case for inclusion of the female gender.  

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe follows proceedings during the dissemination.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe follows proceedings during the dissemination.

“What we are addressing here are historical injustices” said Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe as he commenced his remarks, “And in the case of Makerere University, it is well known that the institution started as a male-only institution and we all know the original motto was ‘Let us be men’” he added.

Citing examples from history such as; Marie Curie – one of the smartest physicists, Hatshepsut, Nefertiti and Cleopatra – prominent Pharaohs of Egypt, George Eliot, Rosa Luxemburg and Hypatia – all great philosophers as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel – first female Chancellor of Germany, the Vice Chancellor said there is no plausible argument that there are things women cannot do as well as their male counterparts.

He said it was against this knowledge and in a bid to correct historical injustices that Makerere University pioneered initiatives such as putting in place affirmative action for girls, establishing a Gender Mainstreaming Directorate as well as a School of Women and Gender Studies. The Vice Chancellor nevertheless stressed the need to go beyond pioneering to protecting these gains through legislation. “Historically we have seen that discrimination can only be addressed by laws and policies.”

Prof. Nawangwe thanked the Government for providing funds to support Mak-RIF as well as the Funds GMC and Secretariat for ensuring that these funds are put to good use. He equally thanked the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara for her not only her support but also sparing time to attend a good number of the research dissemination events.

A screenshot of the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara delivering the concluding remarks.
A screenshot of the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara delivering the concluding remarks.

Delivering the concluding remarks, Mrs. Magara acknowledged that the study was timely and relevant the contemporary University, as one of the critical drivers of the national and international development agenda. She therefore reechoed the Vice Chancellor’s thanks to the Government of Uganda for generously supporting the University’s research through Mak-RIF.

Turning to the keynote speaker she said, “I thank Prof. Okwakol for ardently discussing the critical issues affecting the female gender, the strategies to overcome the challenges, including sharing her inspiring personal experiences.”

Mrs. Magara equally thanked Prof. Okwakol for her very instructional analysis, providing mentorship guidance with the resultant impact of enhancing the female gender in decision-making positions. In the same breath she congratulated the PI and her team upon successfully concluding phase one of the project.

“Phase one has generated insights in understanding the status of women in leadership in public universities, the legal and policy framework and its implications on women’s visibility, the institutional mentoring systems and the gaps therein” she observed.

The Chairperson of Council acknowledged that the challenge of underrepresentation of women in leadership roles cannot be resolved at an individual level. She therefore advocated for broad based strategies that can address deep-seated structural and cultural biases facing women. “These include developing mentorship networks, enacting laws and policies that address the imbalances and providing training programmes to address the leadership gaps.”

She therefore pledged the University Council’s unwavering support to the Gender Mainstreaming Programme by ensuring an enabling policy environment that facilitates gender-responsive teaching, learning, research innovation and community service.   

The research dissemination was moderated by the Principal Public Relations Officer (PRO), Ms. Ritah Namisango and the Director Communications, Learning and Knowledge Management, ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) and PRO Mak-RIF, Ms. Harriet Adong.

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Section Editors & Associate Editors Wanted-CABI Agriculture & Biosciences Journal

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The CABI Agriculture and Biosciences Journal (CABI A&B) is still in search of both Associate Editors to join the CABI A&B Editorial Board, as well as a Regional Editor-in-Chief to lead for Africa in addition to serving as a Section Editor in the area of either Environmental and SOIL SCIENCE, AGROECOLOGY, OR AQUACULTURE AND FISHERIES. Ideally CABI wants Section Editors (SE) who are prominent members of their research communities, with high-level established positions at a research institution, with a strong, current record of international collaborations and publication, with an H-index of at least 25.  For Associate Editors (AE) we hope for researchers who have with established positions at a research institution (e.g., not post-docs or Ph.D. candidates), with a strong growing record of international collaborations and publication (e.g., around 8 publications in the past two years), and have an H-index of at least 15.

Very importantly, CABI hopes for SEs and AEs who are good communicators and are passionate about serving and building the journal to be an outlet for both large and small steps of sound science that will improve the lives and livelihoods of people worldwide.

Please see Downloads for the CABI EDITORIAL DIRECTORY

Interested applicants should email PHILIPPA J. BENSON, PH.D. MANAGING EDITOR | _CABI A&B | P.BENSON[at]CABI.ORG

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