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Mak Honours Prof. Capt. Dr. Virginio Lachora Ongom

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On Thursday, 28th June 2018, Makerere University paid well-deserved tribute to one of the most hardworking researchers and publishers in his day and first African Dean of the School of Public Health (MakSPH), Prof. Capt. Dr. Virginio Lachora Ongom. Appropriately described as the “Meteorite from Pakwach” by the day’s emcee, Mr. George Piwang Jalobo, Prof. Ongom’s light brilliantly flashed across the sky of Pakwach District to the rest of Uganda, then to Kenya onto India and then vanished after only forty seven years, leaving behind a trail of achievements and publications.

The writing on the wall became clearer as speaker after speaker paid tribute at the Inaugural Memorial Lecture. Prof. Ongom was a hardworking academic and army officer who was passionate about using his time and resources to cause a change in his community. As a father, he was a strict disciplinarian and time keeper whose home often turned into an impromptu ‘reception centre’ for patients he often ferried over hundreds of kilometres from his Panyagoro village to Mulago Hospital.

Dignitaries such as Front Row: L-R: Dr. Geoffrey Onegi Obel, Dr. Sam Zaramba, Dr. Isaac Okullo and Hon. Fred Omach graced the Inaugural Lecture. Background (saluting) are some of the members of the UPDF Medical Services

“Prof. Ongom intervened and treated those who had been ‘bewitched’ and they recovered. That is how those ‘witches’ survived being lynched by their community, thanks to his research” said the College of Health Sciences (CHS)’ Deputy Principal-Dr. Isaac Okullo in his welcome remarks.

Representing the CHS Principal-Prof. Charles Ibingira, Dr. Okullo paid tribute to Prof. Ongom’s perseverance and determination in the face of resource constraints, to arrest the spread of bilharzia and treat affected persons. “This is what we always want as the result of our research.”

Dr. Isaac Okullo thanked Prof. Ongom for demystifying bilharzia among the Jonam of Pakwach district

Dr. Okullo congratulated MakSPH upon continuing to raise awareness about bilharzia and other Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and thanked partners such as MaxMind Corporation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) as well as stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health (MoH)’s Vector Control Division (VCD) and the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) for supporting bilharzia research. “The event is a first step to galvanise support to eliminate bilharzia and other NTDs and so we still need your continued support to take this cause forward” he added.

Describing the late Prof. Capt. Dr. VL Ongom as a true patriot, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe in his remarks said, “The major purpose of this function therefore is to honour the patriotism, commitment and hard work of all researchers including Prof. Ongom, whose selfless effort and dedication brought these findings to light.”

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe reiterated Makerere's readiness to spearhead the drive to raise funds to fight bilharzia and other NTDs

Prof. Nawangwe further stressed that as the leading research university in Africa, Makerere would provide leadership in the endeavour to raise funds for training and research, in order to contribute to elimination of Bilharzia in Uganda.  He shared Makerere’s pride at being research leaders in areas such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Malaria, as well as other diseases that hamper socio-economic development in Africa.

“We thank the Government for the support it continues to give this institution and pledge that every single coin will be put to the good cause of eliminating bilharzia and other Neglected Tropical Diseases” he concluded.

Introducing the Inaugural Memorial Lecture, the MakSPH Dean, Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze shared that the event was a continuation of an initiative embarked on by the School in December 2017; to honour all its erstwhile Heads. Four of these namely; Prof. Josephine Nambooze, Prof. John Kakitahi, Prof. Fred Wabwire-Mangen and Prof. David Serwadda were present to celebrate Prof. VL Ongom’s rich legacy, appropriately described by Dr. Wanyenze as “a trail of evidence through his scientific publications for posterity.”

Former MakSPH Deans L-R: Prof. David Serwadda, Prof. Fred Wabwire-Mangen,  Prof. John Kakitahi and Prof. Josephine Nambooze with Dean-Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze and Prof. Birgitte Vennervald

The Dean further shared the School’s proposal to establish the Prof VL Ongom Endowed Chair and Endowment Fund, to support capacity building, research and innovations towards eliminating bilharzia and NTDs, including nodding disease. “This Endowed Chair presents a great opportunity to enhance the capacity of the University, Ministry of Health and UPDF Medical Services, to ably contribute solutions to this big challenge.

“Our target is to raise at least US$2million by June 2019, when we hold the next Prof. Ongom Memorial Lecture and at least US$15million by June 2024, a landmark year, when we celebrate 50 years since the Institute of Public Health was established, and the 6th annual Prof VL Ongom Memorial Lecture. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not just about money, but the real impact that we can and should make on the affected communities” remarked Dr. Wanyenze.

MakSPH Dean-Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze shared plans to establish the Prof VL Ongom Endowed Chair and Endowment Fund

The choice of the person to deliver the Inaugural Prof. V.L. Ongom Memorial lecture couldn’t have been more appropriate. Prof. Birgitte Vennervald is no stranger to Uganda’s fight against bilharzia. Having first come to Uganda in 1989 under the auspices of the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Prof. Vennervald has gone on to traverse more Districts and villages in Uganda than the average national, thanks to the inspiration awakened by Prof. Ongom’s research and publications on the same.

“Prior to Prof. Ongom’s publications, most of the research on schistosomiasis was conducted outside sub-Saharan Africa, especially in Egypt, South America and Asia” shared Prof. Vennervald. “In this presentation we quote two of his papers on The Epidemiology and consequences of Schistosoma Mansoni” she continued.
 
Taking note of the aforementioned papers published in 1972, Prof. Vennervald stressed that these had to be revisited and further examined because Prof. Ongom had the benefit of understanding the local dialect and culture in his native Panyagoro community. “He had to rely on his hands to do all the necessary tests and his research demonstrated that in a community where bilharzia exists, it may end up being the most important public health need. We therefore should follow in Prof. Ongom’s footsteps for he indeed demonstrated that research must be evidence-based” she enthused.

 Prof. Birgitte Vennervald from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark delivered the Inaugural Prof. VL Ongom Memorial Lecture

Prof. Vennervald went on to congratulate MakSPH, the Ministry of Health (MoH) as well as other partners upon their continued research and vector control programmes that have led to the elimination of the previously endemic river blindness in from 18 out of the original 39 Districts of Uganda. “I nevertheless call upon the School of Public Health to make bilharzia and NTDs an attractive topic to students and researchers so as to keep the subject vibrant. Additionally, general drug distributors should be trained on how to handle or refer cases of bilharzia and other NTDs.”

She nevertheless called for a multi-sectoral approach in the fight against bilharzia and NTDs by involving agencies such as; MoH, Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) as well as the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, in order to safeguard tourists from being infected by diseases especially waterborne ones such as bilharzia.

Prof. Vennervald however took note of poor medicine uptake due to fear of side effects, the lack of child-friendly treatment and poor sanitation especially among migratory fishing communities as problems that still threatened the fight against bilharzia. “Some areas such as the islands of Lake Victora and districts in the Albertine region such as Hoima, Buliisa and Pakwach have experienced bilharzia upsurge.

Members of the Prof. VL Ongom family share a light moment during the Inaugural Lecture

“Despite all this, we learn from Prof. Ongom that we should remain focused on bilharzia by insisting that this is our problem, our community’s problem and Uganda’s problem in order to bring it to an end. You have the knowledge, research base and dedicated people in Makerere and Ministry of Health. You should be able to find a lasting solution to this problem and meet Government’s Vision 2040 goal” she concluded.

“We have done a lot of research and made a lot of interventions but we must admit that the bilharzia problem is much bigger than we thought” remarked Dr. Narsis Kabatereine, the discussant of the Inaugural Memorial Lecture. As one who joined the MoH’s Vector Control Division (VCD) in 1980, Dr. Kabatereine paid tribute to Prof. Ongom, who despite living for a short time wrote very prolific papers that demystified previous notions that only Caucasians were susceptible to schistosomiasis.

“I therefore thank Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze and Dr. Christopher Orach for encouraging research on schistosomiasis. This goes to show that research in implementable activities is still much-needed in today’s public health interventions” added Dr. Kabatereine.

Dr. Narcis Kabatereine paid tribute to Prof. Ongom for his evidence-based research

The day’s tributes would have been incomplete without voices from those who knew Prof. V.L Ongom way before he became the trailblazing researcher and publisher. Speaking as a trio; Former Prime Minister-Rt. Hon. Kintu Musoke, Second Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of East African Affairs-Hon. Kirunda Kivejinja and Former Minister and Ambassador-Prof. Semakula Kiwanuka oscillated the audience between spellbinding silence and bouts of laughter.
 
“In 1958 I attended an interview to secure a scholarship to India, where the other interviewee was a young man called V.L Ongom” reminisced Rt. Hon. Kintu Musoke. “While I went on to secure a scholarship from the Government of India, V.L. Ongom received the Madhvani scholarship. Later when we met in India, it was ‘love at first sight’! The Ongom we knew was a serious student, a serious religious man and a serious political operator” he added.

“Hearing my senior colleague describe VL Ongom as a political animal was the biggest surprise to me” began Prof. Semakula Kiwanuka in reference to Rt. Hon. Kintu Musoke’s remarks. “Ongom and I met at Namilyango College in 1953 and what I remember is that he was extremely serious, hardworking and very clever.

L-R: Prof. Semakula Kiwanuka, Hon. Kirunda Kivejinja and Rt. Hon. Kintu Musoke paid moving tributes to their departed friend Prof. VL Ongom

“I was the President of the Uganda Students Association at the University of Nairobi but I never knew Ongom to be political! I don’t know what happened to those who went to India” remarked Prof. Semakula Kiwanuka, sending the audience roaring with laughter. “Today is therefore a wonderful day and we thank Makerere for honouring the distinguished scholar that Ongom was. Your presence here especially that of His Excellency the Vice President is testimony to that and I thank you for honouring my classmate, my schoolmate and my universitymate” he concluded.

“Your honouring Ongom and indeed honouring us today has fulfilled in our lives that when you do something good for your country, you will one day be recognised” eulogized Hon. Kirunda Kivenjinja. “As leaders, we hold positions of power and can get things done, but we didn’t want to remind the President to honour Ongom” he continued.

“As freedom fighters, there are three things we don’t do; we don’t seek our own glory, we don’t mourn our dead and we don’t lobby. We therefore thank the organisers of this Memorial lecture for befittingly honouring Prof. Ongom and his family today” summarised Hon. Kivejinja.

The Vice President H.E. Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi stressed Goverment's commitment to fighting bilharzia and other NTDs

In his remarks, the Vice President H.E. Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi who represented the President H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni saluted the University for honouring distinguished leaders, noting that in so doing, “Makerere University, as a whole, and the College of Health Sciences and School of Public Health, in particular; have embarked on becoming transformation agents!

“This is a wonderful example of Academia getting out of its traditional “ivory tower” mentality into the real world to solve real problems that affect real people! This is re-orientation from ideological dis-orientation which has been a real obstacle to Uganda’s transformation since colonial times!” he added.

The Vice President observed that Prof. VL Ongom had the energy of an Army Captain Doctor even in Academia and seamlessly blended into the Army and Government in service of his community and Nation. “He was also a very religious man, who put his Catholic Christian faith in practice. For he was Chairman of St Augustine’s Chapel Community, and was a true patriot who drove the Chaplain, Rev. Fr. David Kiyingi, to the Uganda-Kenya border and to safety in the 1970s! This occurred when Idi Amin’s soldiers wanted Rev. Fr. Kiyingi dead or alive” he further praised.

The Department of Performing Arts and Film (PAF) led by Mr. Milton Wabyona (with necktie) put up moving performances at the Inaugural Lecture

H.E. Kiwanuka Ssekandi further noted the importance of a skilled and healthy population in enabling Uganda to realize her Vision 2040 and pledged the Government’s as well as UPDF Medical Services’ readiness to join MoH at the frontline of the struggle to eliminate Bilharzia and other NTDs by 2040.

“These historic projects have been eloquently articulated by the Dean, Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze. I will arrange to meet with the leadership of the University and School of Public Health in the nearest future to discuss these proposals in detail” concluded the President’s speech.

“If there was anyone who learnt anything from his strict timekeeping it was me” shared Ms. Elizabeth Ongom as she paid tribute. “You knew him as Professor but we knew him as Daddy. All we wanted was a father but we understood his commitment, he had to treat people” she added.

Mama Cecilia Ongom (L) listens to her daughter Elizabeth (2nd L) alongside Mr. Godfrey Ongom (3rd R), EALA MP-Hon. Rose Akol (R) and Emcee-Mr. George Piwang Jalobo

“As a family, we are extremely grateful and dearly thank Makerere University for honouring our late father Prof. Virginio Lachora Ongom. As you have heard from Prof. Vennervald’s lecture, Prof. Ongom’s research had impact and some of the bilharzia survivors he treated are today happily married. We also pay tribute to the gift of friends that our late father left behind who have been an integral part of our lives” shared the eldest son Mr. Godfrey Ongom.

There was a hushed silence from the audience as Mama Cecilia Ongom took her turn to pay tribute to her dearly departed husband. Speaking gently and yet authoritatively, Mama Ongom thanked Makerere University and all the organisers for the wonderful tribute to Prof. Ongom. She also thanked the Vice President for representing His Excellency the President at the Inaugural lecture, as well as all in the audience who had spared time to attend the event. “We were both in the same medical profession and we knew the call. We had to care” she summed up.

Prof. Capt. Dr. VL Ongom made a great contribution to science through his research in parasitology, especially in bilharzia and sexually transmitted infections. He published profusely; with over twenty five peer-reviewed publications as the first author, and overall, had over 35 publications including four theses. He was a Board member of the Uganda Commercial Bank; now Stanbic Bank, and oversaw the establishment of the bank’s branch in Pakwach district. In recognition and honour of his outstanding contributions, the Pakwach District Council on Saturday, 30th June 2018 renamed its Health Centre IV the Prof. VL Ongom Memorial Hospital.

Article by Public Relations Office

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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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