By: Ritah Namisango
Makerere University, a public-funded institution, has embarked on a journey to champion the implementation of the Gender Equality Seal in public institutions. The Gender Equality Seal is aimed at encouraging public institutions to analyse and mainstream gender into their policies, improve their approaches and their potential impact on women’s lives, empowerment and gender equality.
Consequently, on Thursday 6th April 2023, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe commissioned the Gender Equality Seal Committee at Makerere University and called upon them to ensure a 50/50 per cent gender parity across the board.
“I congratulate the Committee upon its appointment. Over the years, Makerere University has embraced gender mainstreaming and equity initiatives. I am glad that Makerere University has been selected to champion the implementation of the Gender Equality Seal programme. Our goal should focus on attaining a 50/50 gender parity across the board. I urge the team to spearhead the certification process for Makerere University to earn the gold seal. I thank UNDP for accepting to partner with Makerere University in the implementation of the Gender Equality Seal initiative,” he said.
Prof. Nawangwe emphasized the need to recommend policies and laws that will inform the gender equality drive, implementation and practice. “I advise you to undertake a self-reflection of what Makerere University has done or achieved over the years and set your goals. I hope that the exercise will also make proposals for policies. For countries to make good progress, gender equality and parity issues ought to be prioritised in the law.”
The Gender Equality Seal (GES) for public institutions is a methodological proposal and acknowledges the efforts of public institutions towards achieving substantive equality between women and men within the framework of the 2030 agenda for development and the Sustainable Development Goals. (SDGs). At Makerere University, the Gender Equality Seal initiative is anchored by the School of Women and Gender Studies.
The commissioning ceremony held in the Council Room, Makerere University Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility started with an orientation programme to enable the Members of the newly constituted Gender Equality Seal Committee to understand and appreciate the noble task.
Chaired by Dr. Sarah N. Ssali, an Associate Professor and the Dean, School of Women and Gender Studies, the Gender Equality Seal Committee consists of the following members: Dr. Euzobia Baine Mugisha-Director of Gender Mainstreaming, Mr. Evarist Bainomugisha-University Bursar, Mr. Ssanyu Lawrence-Ag. Director of Human Resources, Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli-Dean of Students, Ms. Ritah Namisango-Principal Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Kitamirike-Principal Planning Officer, and Mr. Ayub Kiranda-the Secretary to the Committee. It is important to note that two (2) female representatives of students will be nominated to join the Committee when the 89th Students’ Guild Government is constituted.
During the orientation, the Gender Equality Seal Committee listened to presentations on: the overview of the Gender Equality Seal for Public institutions, introduction to the role and expectations of the Gender Equality Seal Committee, Sharing of best practices of gender equality at the global, regional and national level. This was followed by an interactive experience sharing session from the Members of the Gender Equality Seal Committee including a question and answer session.
In her address, Dr. Sarah Ssali reiterated the commitment of the university leadership towards gender issues at the institutional, structural and operations levels through the establishment of the School of Women and Gender Studies, the Directorate of Gender Mainstreaming, the formulation of the Gender Equity Policy, the Policy and Regulations Against Sexual Harassment, among others. These measures are aimed at promoting gender equality, women empowerment and protection of men and women against all forms of abuse. In addition to these efforts, Dr. Ssali acknowledged the Vice Chancellor; who is renowned for championing the mainstreaming of gender into university processes, for appointing the Gender Equality Seal Committee to take on an oversight role that will drive the transformation of Makerere University with regard to gender parity.
Dr. Ssali highlighted that the gender equality seal process will not only help Makerere University to deliver on its gender gains, but also contribute to its transformation into a competitive centre of gender excellence. She revealed that Makerere University requested for the Gender Equality Seal programme in consideration of SDG 5, which focuses on achieving gender equality. She noted that the Gender Equality Seal Committee is very central because universities will be ranked on gender equality.
“Under SDG 5, universities will be ranked on gender equality issues. It is very encouraging to see that UNDP has started this process with Makerere University. It helps us to check and monitor ourselves, to perform better in gender equality issues and to meet international expectations,” she said.
Dr. Ssali emphasized the need to document evidence and processes as well as have indicators to measure policies and inform policy implementation. “To execute this role of documenting evidence, which is embedded in all the processes, the Vice Chancellor ensured that the planning unit of the University is part of the Gender Equality Seal Committee,” she said.
Underscoring the need for institutional commitment, Ms. Annet Mpabalungi Wakabi, the Team Leader, Governance and Peace at UNDP commended Makerere University for its contribution to national development. She appreciated the leadership at Makerere University for choosing to set the pace in the gender equality seal implementation and processes.
Highlighting that gender equality is a pre-condition for achieving development agenda 2030 and 2063, she explained that the task at hand involves the leadership and the gender equality seal committee to work together to address institutional resistances to gender equality, which includes breaking standards and patterns.
Ms. Mpabalungi provided an account of the existing partnerships between Makerere University and UNDP including the Makerere University Innovations Hub, the ongoing proposal to support a day care centre at Makerere University, and this particular initiative towards the promotion of the Gender Equality Seal in public institutions.
The Team Leader reiterated the commitment and readiness of UNDP to support the realization of the gender equality seal at Makerere, and wished the University leadership and the Gender Equality Seal Committee a fruitful engagement that will result into the gold seal standard. This commitment will be represented in communications through a hash tag: #MakStrive4Gold.
The UNDP team that interacted with the Gender Equality Seal committee at Makerere University included: Ms. Annet Mpabulungi-Team Leader, Ms. Harriet Karusigarira, Ms. Beatrice Mugambe, Angela Bageine and Voilet Namata.
Addressing the Gender Equality Seal Committee and the UNDP team, the Vice Chancellor highlighted the measures that have been undertaken towards gender equity and equality. He mentioned that the strides need to be understood and appreciated within the broader context of the attitudes towards education in general and the cultural norms and practices. Established in 1922 as a technical school, Makerere opened its doors to 14 male students with a motto, let us be men. It was later on in the 1940’s that the female students joined this institution. He disclosed that when he joined the Faculty of Technology (30 years ago), there was only one (1) female student, and everyone in the University knew her. At that time, the enrolment of female students in the University stood at 5%.
To address the low levels of female students’ enrolment, Makerere University in the early 1990s, came up with an affirmative action whereby each female student who qualified to join the University would be added 1.5 points, which gradually raised the enrolment from 5% to growing numbers of up to 42% to date. With this measure, the Vice Chancellor noted that Makerere University has made a tremendous impact on the gender terrain in Uganda and the region. In the same vein, other partners namely Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, and the Makerere University Council through the Female Scholarship Foundation, the Embassy of China in Uganda came on board to provide scholarships to female students.
For staff members, the Vice Chancellor pointed out that women were the majority in the category of support staff and were very few within the administrative and academic staff categories. However, with the access of women to university education and scholarships, the percentage of women in administrative and academic staff positions/ranks has continued to rise. He noted that although the University has not yet reached the desired levels of women in administrative and academic staff categories, the future is bright and promising. Makerere University also subscribes to the Employment laws of Uganda, and the Equal Opportunities Act. In the adverts, qualified women are encouraged to apply. During the recruitment processes, qualified women compete with men, and the best candidate is considered.
On the issue of women in leadership, the Vice Chancellor outlined the deliberate effort to identify qualifying women to take on key roles. For instance, the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate is headed by Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program has been headed by women (Ms. Catherine Kanabahita, Dr. Florence Nakayiwa, and Dr. Justine Namaalwa). The Makerere University Grants Administration and Support Management Unit (GAMSU) was headed by Prof. Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo, and following her appointment to become the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs) of Bunyoro University, Prof. Sylvia Antonia Nannyonga-Tamusuza.
Going forward, the Vice Chancellor guided that the drive of Makerere University should be geared towards achieving 50/50 per cent parity in all these issues and expressed confidence that this would be feasible thanks to the capacity built over the years. “Once again, I thank the Gender Equality Seal Committee for accepting to serve. Please make sure that Makerere University gets the Gold seal in gender equality. I officially commission the Gender Equality Seal Committee to start its work,’’ remarked the Vice Chancellor amidst applause.
The specific objectives of the Gender Equality Seal Initiative include:
- To enhance the understanding of the Gender Equality Seal for public institutions including the overall goals, objectives and principles of the Gender Equality Seal and how it works.
- To support the University leadership’s commitment to rolling out and implementing the Gender Equality Seal programme.
- To facilitate and support the transfer of knowledge and skills to Makerere University and establish a core team of Gender Advisors to support the roll out and implementation of the seal programme.
Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda calls for full involvement of men and boys in achieving Gender Equality
The Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda Her Excellence Maria Håkansson has emphasized the need to fully engage men and boys in all the initiatives geared towards achieving Gender Equality in Uganda and other parts of the world. She said this on 28th November 2023 at a press conference organized by the Embassy of Sweden in close collaboration with Makerere University Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, UN Women and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to unveil the National Orange Pledge campaign and officially launch the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
The press conference was headlined by a Ugandan rapper and record producer Daniel Lubwama Kigozi, popularly known by his stage name Navio and his fellow from Sweden Jason Michael Bosak Diakité popularly known as Timbuktu. Over 200 students both male and female from Makerere University and other institutions of higher learning attended the press conference at Makerere University Rugby Grounds.
According to Her Excellence Maria Håkansson, Gender Equality cannot be achieved without involving men and boys to take their responsibilities and be the drivers of change. “For real change to happen, we need to change attitudes and norms that might cause Gender Based Violence, one of the social ills in Uganda and an extreme of gender inequality that occurs at all levels of society,” she said.
Referring to the national survey conducted in 2020, the Ambassador was concerned about the escalating burden of gender based violence in Uganda when she said, “the Survey highlighted that 95% of women and girls experience physical or sexual violence since the age of 15.”
She therefore emphasized the Global 16 Days of Activism as key international movement to increase awareness and advocate for an end to Gender Based Violence. The Ambassador also mentioned that preventing and responding to Gender Based Violence is a cornerstone for Sweden’s commitment to promote democracy, human rights and gender equality and this is done as an investment in a society that upholds the principles of equality, dignity and justice.
She acknowledged the full participation of university students in all campaigns and activities geared towards achieving gender equality as well as ending Gender Based Violence when she said, “You are the leaders of tomorrow and you have an opportunity to build a future where everyone can thrive. So please use today to take an active stand against Gender Based Violence.”
Every year Uganda joins the rest of the world to enhance the global campaigns on 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and also add a voice to the call for an end to violence against women and girls. These campaigns run from 25th November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) until 10th December of the Human Rights Day.
The United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 initiative calls for global action to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts and share knowledge and innovations to help end all types of violence against women and girls. This year 2023, the UNiTE campaign theme is; Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls.
Over the years, Makerere University through its Gender Mainstreaming Directorate and School of Women and Gender in partnership with UN Women and many other partners have been at the fore front to support the campaign on 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence in Uganda. This has been done through debates, theatre forums, student dialogues, thematic artistic presentations, media exposures, drama and music skits presentation, and student peer led discussions and quarterly competitions.
This year 2023, the University in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden, UN Women and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) unveiled the Orange Pledge. According to Eric Tumwesigye the Senior Gender Specialist at Makerere University Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, this campaign calls upon government, policymakers, activists, civil societies, academicians, students and all members of community from all parts of the country to make their heartfelt pledges towards ending Gender Based Violence in Uganda and the rest of the world.
The UN Women Country Representative Paulina Chiwangu recognized the investment Makerere University, the Embassy of Sweden and UNFPA have made to end violence against women and girls. “Thanks to our collective efforts, the silence that used to shroud violence against women has now been broken” said.
In the same spirit, she acknowledged the progress Makerere University has made in establishing and implementation of the University’s Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment to protect students and staff from potential abuses of power and conflict of interest. She also applauded the increased support and training for students and the strengthened mechanisms for investigations that allow students and staff to anonymously report sexual misconduct.
“We are however, aware that despite this, sexual harassment is still happening in the university and that not many students report to the authorities when they experience it. It is therefore, our humble appeal to the university leadership to continue monitoring the implementation of the Policy and Regulations Against Sexual Harassment, take all allegations of sexual harassment and violence seriously, ensure that all personnel have information on available support services and take action to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.”
Reaffirming the University’s position in fighting GBV and particularly sexual harassment, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe was highlighted the various measures Makerere University has put in place to prevent and respond to Gender Based Violence. To him, the Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment; the appointment and capacity building for the Vice Chancellor’s Roster of 100 eminent people from the various colleges and administrative units; recruitment and training of the Gender Mainstreaming Programme Student Peer Trainers and setting up Sexual Harassment Investigation Committees are bigger milestones to celebrate.
He appreciated the move by the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate and all the partners to embrace entertainment and artistry as a critical advocacy and awareness tool to reach several communities especially the youth.
“We firmly believe in the transformative power of music and the arts in promoting social change. Music and art does serve as a powerful medium to advocate for the world free from violence especially violence against women,” said to Mr. Dainel Alemu, the UNFPA Deputy Country Representative.
“It is heartening to see artists like Navio taking a stand and using their influence to challenge harmful norms. As we revel in the beats and melodies, let us not forget he underlying message that everyone , regardless of gender, has a role to play in fostering a world where everyone is free from shackles of gender based violence,” he added.
Speaking at the Press Conference at Makerere University Rugby Grounds, Navio said that for the 20 years he has been an activist of Gender Based Violence, he has faced the reality of many young girls and women in Uganda being victims of sex and physical abuse. He therefore sent a huge condemnation to men especially artists that who are perpetrators of Gender Based Violence and called for serious government action and clear policies and laws against such injustices.
Navio applauded the women and men who have stood tall over the years to fight against Gender Based Violence in Uganda when he said, “ As we launch the 16 days activism in Uganda and through these pledges we are making, let us be accountable for our actions. For long in our cultures, men have considered force and violence as power and protection. They have been tough to their children hence instilling fear to the extent that the children cannot freely interact with them on serious matters such as abuse and torture.”
He applauded all families that have adopted the new parenting model of free conversations and interaction hence encouraging children to freely open up whenever they have challenges. Navio also acknowledged the role of his mother Mrs Maggie Kigozi as a human rights activist and a champion in fighting against Gender Based Violence in Uganda.
Jason Michael Bosak Diakité popularly known as Timbuktu from Sweden appreciated the wider platform provided by the music industry globally for artists to act as role models and champion of change. The rapper highlighted the need to respect women for their roles and support towards community development.
“I am a son and it is extremely important for me to respect my mother and all women. Also being a father to a beautiful daughter, I am always eager and looking forward to seeing the best future for her. I want daught to grow up in the world where she is able to feel safe and be allowed to freely associate without being discriminated or threatened because of her gender,” he said.
Scholars & Alumni of Mastercard Foundation light up Achukudu Community, Napak District
By Bernard Buteera
On Saturday 2nd December 2023, all roads led to Achukudu Community Primary School in Napak District, Karamoja sub-region, as the Scholars and Alumni of Mastercard Foundation at Makerere University commemorated their Scholars’ Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback). The 2023 Scholars Annual Day of Community Service was held at Achukudu Community Primary School, Napak District in the Karamoja sub-region. Established in 2013, Achukudu Community School serves two ethnic communities—The Iteso and Karamojong.
With a total population of 1,097 pupils only three government-paid teachers, and nine community-paid teachers, the School faces a plethora of challenges. Key among the challenges is the lack of Classrooms, decent Ventilated Pit Latrines, and Desks. Therefore when the Scholars identified the School as one that deserved to be given a gift of a classroom block, it was a befitting choice!
The Scholars with support from the alumni, the Program Team, Members of the Steering Committee, and partners of the Scholars Program at Makerere University intervened by constructing a two-classroom block, which was supervised by one of the alumni who is an Engineer. Alongside the classroom block, the Scholars also provided 40 desks, helping the school meet UNEB Center eligibility criteria.
While presiding over the event, the area member of Parliament, Hon. John Bosco Ngoya, thanked the Scholars and alumni community at Makerere University for supporting the young pupils of Achukudu Primary School and the entire community by gifting them with a two-classroom block.
“Thank you Scholars and alumni of Mastercard Foundation at Makerere University for the Christmas gift of a classroom block to the young people and the entire community of Achukudu. This classroom block will go a long way in improving the learning environment of the young children of Achukudu primary school.” Hon. Ngoya pointed out.
Hon. Ngoya called upon other people to emulate the Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation in embracing the spirit of giving back to the vulnerable people in the community. On his part, he donated One Million Five hundred shillings (1,500,000/=) to help the School purchase more desks, and he had earlier contributed One million shillings (1,000,000/=) towards the construction of the classroom block.
The District Education Officer (DEO) for Napak District, Ms. Joyce Nakoya, praised the Scholars Community for embracing and practicing the spirit of giving back to other people at an early age.
“Thank you Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation at Makerere for embracing the spirit of giving back to other people at such an early age. If all people gave back to the less privileged in our communities, we would have a better world for everyone.” Ms. Nakoya pointed out.
Ms. Nakoya further pointed out every child deserves to study in a decent environment, therefore it was a befitting cause for the Scholars to construct a classroom block for the young pupils of Achukudu community primary school, who were studying in open grass thatched classrooms.
The Program Manager of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University, Ms. Jolly Okumu who led the team of Scholars, alumni, and staff to Karamoja thanked the community of Achukudu for supporting the Scholars to deliver the class block by contributing to the construction sand.
“We come here today to join with you as a community driven by a shared commitment to education, empowerment, and ethos of giving back. Today is a historic occasion as we celebrate the completion and commissioning of the classroom block, which is a remarkable testament to the transformative power of education and our unwavering spirit of community service.” Ms. Jolly remarked.
The President of the Scholars Association, Mr. Godfrey Okello, thanked all the Scholars and alumni, and all stakeholders who contributed to the construction of the classroom block, which was a dream that became a reality.
“I would like to thank my colleagues and people of goodwill who supported us to realize our dream of constructing this classroom for our young brothers and sisters of Achukudu Primary School. Together we can make a difference in the lives of our fellow young people in Uganda and Africa as a whole.” Mr. Okello remarked.
The Headteacher of the School, Mr. Eryebu Raymond, who was visibly very excited was full of praises for Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation, for what he termed as an iconic classroom block they had gifted to his School.
“This day is very special to us, we will not see this day again. We are delighted to receive the Scholars and alumni of Mastercard Foundation from Makerere University, thank you for considering supporting our School” Mr. Eryebu excitedly remarked.
The Headteacher revealed that one of the major challenges the school was facing was an acute shortage of classrooms for his 1,097 pupils. He was therefore grateful to Mastercard Foundation Scholars for choosing to construct a two-class block for the School.
“This donation of a classroom block and Desks is a testament to your commitment to education and empowering the lives of the vulnerable people in the community. This classroom block and desks will go a long way in improving the quality of teaching and learning at our school.” Mr. Eryebu further remarked.
The 2023 Scholars Annual Day of Community Service (Giveback) was punctuated with a lot of joy, pomp, and fanfare, as the pupils and the entire community of Achukudu danced and ululated at the commissioning of the classroom block. The construction of the classroom block and purchase of desks for Achukudu Community Primary School was made possible by generous contributions by the Scholars, alumni, the Program Team, and members of the Steering Committee.
Among the Partners who made financial contributions towards the class block construction included; DFCU Bank, Post Bank, URA, Katumba Estates, Footsteps Furniture Ltd, and Sion Travels Ltd.
The Scholars and Alumni Day of Community Service (Give back) is an annual event, where Scholars and alumni of the Mastercard Foundation go out into the community to give back by providing solutions to challenges that a particular community is facing. Over the years Scholars have given back to the communities in numerous ways that range from offering professional services and erecting major projects like classroom blocks.
Bernard Buteera is the Communications and Public Relations Officer of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University.
Innovations using low cost locally available materials for point of use water treatment system unveiled
The College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) conducted a Research Dissemination of two studies aimed at the Development of Materials for point of use water treatment systems.
The investigations were conducted by a team of researchers comprised of P. W. Olupot, H. M. Kalibbala, E. Menya, G.M. Wangi, J. Jjagwe, J. Wakatuntu, M. Turyasingura, R. Walozi, C. Kanyesigye and R. N. Kulabako.
The dissemination event held on Wednesday 29th November 2023 follows the successful completion of two MakRIF supported Research projects namely; Development of rice husk based granular activated carbon for point-of-use water treatment systems and Development of zeolite-based nanocomposite filters for drinking water treatment.
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