Uganda: Feminists Call for Establishment of Gender Units in Universities

Women at work in Nigeria.

Every university should have a gender unit as an institutional mechanism that ensures that gender equity is observed.

The call was made by Dr Euzobia Baine, the Makerere University Director of Gender Mainstreaming during the ongoing Gender Identity Week dialogue.

Taking place at Makerere University, the Gender Identity Week organized by the School of Women and Gender Studies in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden is aimed at discussing critical gender related issues.

Dr Baine said gender units are key when it comes to gender mainstreaming process of ensuring that men and women at the institutions of higher learning are fairly treated according to their respective needs as well as have equal access to opportunities and control of all development initiatives.

She said currently, women are still faced with a challenge of choosing between career and family due to gender insensitive factors in most institutions.

"If we are to achieve gender equity in its desirable form, we should put in place factors that enable women have both [career and family].

"Last year a student came with her baby to the lecture room but it didn't go down well with the administration and in the end she dropped out from her course. We had a breast feeding and day care facility at the institution it would have been a different story," said Dr Baine.

Ms Ruth Ojambo Ochieng, a consultant revealed that gender equity can be promoted through networking and partnership.

"As a feminist I know we have never been equal even up to date we are not equal but if we network and partner with stakeholders we achieve equity by changing the mindset of the societies."

On the other hand, Associate Professor Consolata Kabonesa, the Coordinator of Gender/ Sweden's development cooperation in Uganda (Sida) project said they are committed to carrying out several projects that elevate the status of women in society.

"We are going to conduct a gender training of trainer of trainees, do research on Gender Based Violence and we shall continue with these dialogues because they are important to us; they link the university to the public to exchange ideas on how best we can deal with gender issues," she said.

Mr Ola Hallgren, the Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of Sweden also noted, "Sweden is serious about gender research since we believe that men and women should have equal rights in society. We are working with Makerere University to make it a reality."

The week is running under the theme, "Empowering Women through Innovative Approaches to social Protection: A pre-requisite for inclusive and sustainable development".

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