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Prof. Okwakol Calls For Transformational Leadership at HERS-EA Second Academy

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The HERS-EA Second Academy is a follow-up of the Inaugural Leadership academy held from 2nd to 7th July 2017. Higher Education Resource Services, East Africa (HERS-EA), is an educational non-profit organization advancing women leadership and management in the East African Community (EAC) member countries. Established in 2014, HERS-EA is an affiliate of HERS based in Denver, Colorado, USA, and established in 1972.

The HERS-EA Second Academy set to be held from 1st to 6th July 2018 will accord participants the opportunity to meet their unique professional needs through sessions on Grant Writing, Institutional Budgeting, Navigating the Political Environment, Professional Women’s Economic Empowerment and Institutional Leadership. Other topics to be covered include; tips for Research and Publishing, Family Responsibilities versus Career Development among others, not to mention, a host of guest lectures.

This year’s events kicked off with pre-ACADEMY activities which included field visits to grassroots women’s groups under the Women Empowering Women (WEW) project, supported by Mississippi State University, USA. HERS-EA Secretariat welcomed Assistant Professor, Fashion, Design and Merchandising, Dr. Caroline Kobia, from Mississippi State University, who played a significant part in training HERS-EA women, in improving the quality of the reusable sanitary pads they have been producing. The WEW Reusable Sanitary Pads project was initiated by HERS-EA, to help provide sanitary pads to girls and women, in response to the established lack of access to menstruation hygiene products. HERS-EA currently supports three women’s groups in Butaleja and Bulambuli districts. In collaboration with Makerere University based platform: Africa Institute for Strategic Services and Development (AFRISA) the women’s groups have embarked on Poultry value chains, to address food security and broaden sources of income.

Welcoming facilitators and participants to the opening ceremony in the Main Hall on Monday, 2nd July 2018, the HERS-EA Coordinator-Ms. Naomi Lumutenga thanked the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for believing in HERS-EA’s Vision while still serving as Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration) and supporting Makerere University female staff to participate in the Inaugural Academy. She also thanked the Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT)-Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi for endorsing the participation of female PhD students under Sida sponsorship.

“We also thank the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate (GMD) for hosting our secretariat and the Directorate of Legal Affairs (DLA) for the priceless advice. Outside Makerere University, we thank all the Vice Chancellors who have nominated participants to the academy” remarked Ms. Lumutenga.

She thereafter paid special tribute to volunteer facilitators from the United States of America namely; Prof. Catherine Hawkins from Texas State University, Dr. Meghan Millea from East Carolina University and Ms. Shauncey Hill from Mississippi State University, for sacrificing their time and resources to share their skills with academy participants.

Prof. Mary Okwakol on top of being the Vice Chancellor of Busitema University and Chairperson of the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) is also Member of the RUFORUM Committee representing East African Countries and member of the World Women University Presidents Forum Organising Committee representing Africa. Despite the aforementioned commitments and more, she is still a wife, mother of three, and grandmother of five.

Prof. Mary Okwakol (R) with Ms. Shauncey Hill-MSSTATE (L) and Rear: HERS-EA Coordinator-Ms. Naomi Lumutenga (2nd R), Prof. Catherine Hawkins-TXSTATE and other participants upon arrival to deliver the keynote address

“I owe all that I am to my unschooled but educated parents who despite not having gone to formal school, still had the wisdom to value the education of the girl child instead of marriage, as was the case then” she said.

Despite seeming to have it all together now, Prof. Okwakol confessed to having had to overcome a lot of cultural and institutional challenges along her career path, which included overt and covert sexism, as well as having to endure and rise above long-entrenched stereotypes. She also had to pass up her PhD training opportunity twice over; in Bern and Oxford, so as to raise her then young children. “What good will it profit you if you get this paper while your young family crumbles?” reminisced Prof. Okwakol, of the wise advice from a friend who’d had to leave her young family in Nairobi to do her PhD in London.

“I am telling you all this so that you know that what you are going through, I have gone through and triumphed” empathised Prof. Okwakol.

Herself a 2007 Graduate of HERS-South Africa, Prof. Okwakol, thanked HERS-EA for promoting the advancement of women in leadership and management in Higher Education through training. “Women at all levels have the ability to care for and nurture others” she shared, before adding “Women bring commitment to teaching as well as supporting the learners, be they male or female. Furthermore, the presence of women in policy making leads to more balanced policies.”

She therefore urged the facilitators, participants and members of the audience present to be transformational leaders. “Strive to be purpose-driven, choose to be role models and always walk the talk so as to have idealized influences. Have genuine concern for those you lead, be innovative and challenge your followers to do likewise” said Prof. Okwakol. “It is transformational leaders who will build transformational institutions” she added.

As such, she called upon Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to instutionalise mentorship, noting that presently, there was an obvious absence of consistent mentoring structures. She observed that most early to mid-career women are often tied down by family responsibilities which called for organisations to institutionalise mechanisms such as sabbatical leaves for women, to enable them undertake research and publish.

R-L: Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi, Prof. Mary Okwakol, Prof. Catherine Hawkins, Ms. Naomi Lumutenga and Ms. Frances Nyachwo have a chat during the tea break at the HERS-EA Second Academy, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

On a parting note, Prof. Okwakol stressed the importance of physical fitness in advancing career. “Take good care of your health and wellbeing” she advised, “Busitema University has six campuses in Eastern Uganda and since I also have a number of meetings both in and out of the country, I travel a lot. The only way I manage is by doing exercise every day! It is very important that all parts of your body receive that flow of blood” she concluded.

Representing the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe at the opening ceremony, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi acknowledged that he had an important stake in the day’s proceedings because leadership in HEIs often goes hand in hand with research and graduate training. “It is therefore critically important that Makerere sets the pace in empowering women to take part in leadership.”
Prof. Buyinza shared that Makerere University has demonstrated its commitment to HERS-EA, by funding a total of twenty women; ten at Inaugural and ten more at the Second Academy. “With continued support through the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate (GMD) and other Units, Makerere University will continue to collaborate with and provide support to HERS-EA in this initiative, whose benefits are for all.

Makerere University is proud to host this Academy and to support the HERS-EA goal of striving to increase the visibility of women in Higher Education Institutions’ senior management positions” concluded the Vice Chancellor’s remarks.

Speaking on Makerere University’s Gender Mainstreaming Programme, the Acting Director GMD-Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine shared a timeline right from the admission of the first six female students in 1945 to the present day strategic objectives. Achieving gender equality and non-discrimination for all staff and students is a strategic objective of Makerere University as espoused in its Gender Equality Policy. “Promoting women participation in leadership in Higher Education Institutions is therefore common ground for the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate and HERS-EA” she added.

Dr. Mugisha Baine shared with her audience the guiding principles of the Gender Equality Policy as: Women and men in the University are not a homogenous group; Gender equality means that the different behaviour, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favoured equally; Intra household family relations may have adverse effect on the University functioning; Transformation in individual consciousness about gender equality and women’s rights as well as organisational culture and governance are a prerequisite for gender equality and women’s empowerment; and Sustainable development is possible only if based on equal partnership and mutual respect between women and men.

“I therefore welcome you all to the HERS-EA Second Academy. I have always been amazed by Ms. Naomi Lumutenga and Prof. Margaret Khaitsa’s passion for women and I am excited that your idea has become a reality” added. Dr. Mugisha Baine.

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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