News / Africa

    East African Program Promotes University Education For Women

    Main entrance of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Kenya.
    Main entrance of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Kenya.
    This is Part 8 of a 12-part series:  Education in Africa
    Continue to Parts: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 /
    6 / 7/ 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 /12

     

    In East Africa, there has been an historic imbalance in the number of men and women pursuing and holding posts in post-secondary education, with relatively few women at the university level.  But efforts are being made to increase women's presence in all levels of university education.  

    Educator Martha Muhwezi recalls a graduation she attended recently at a science and technology institution in Uganda.

    "Only 17 percent [of those graduating] were women," she said.  "And I remember it was one of the issues, which the minister who was the guest of honor was emphasizing, on what strategies should be put in place to ensure that the number of women goes up."

    Muhwezi, who is coordinator of the Uganda chapter of Forum for African Women Educationalists, says in Uganda and elsewhere in East Africa, the field of science has been viewed traditionally as a male domain.  She says the Ugandan government is seeking to change that.

    "In the recent past, there have been a lot of campaigns, a lot of emphasis, including the government, making sciences compulsory at [the] secondary [school] level so that girls do not have an option of opting for humanities," she said.

    Push for science, tech

    Similarly, in Kenya, an estimated 12 percent of students pursuing math and science majors in 2007 were women.  But at one Kenyan university, 100 percent of the science and technology students are women.

    Dr. Wanjiru Wanyoike is deputy vice chancellor of the Nairobi-based Kiriri Women's University of Science and Technology, the only university in East Africa to cater specifically to women.

    She says that part of the students’ training involves taking gender courses to examine how culture has shaped the way society views women and their capabilities in the sciences and other areas.  She says students are also groomed for supervisory positions.

    Leadership training

    "When they are alone, for example here in Kiriri, we have the student body, so they take the leadership -- you have the chairlady, the secretary, the vice-chair, so you find they are also having these leadership roles leading girls.  In these mainstream universities you find most of these leadership positions are occupied by boys," she said.

    And women-held leadership positions within university administrations are vital for providing role models for young women, says Pamela Apiyo, national coordinator of FAWE’s Kenya chapter.  She explains that top Kenyan universities now have women vice-chancellors.

    "For example, at Jomo Kenyatta University of Technology we have Professor Mabel Imbuga," she said. "At Nazarene University, we have Professor Leah Marangu.  At Kenyatta University we have Professor Olive Mugenda and we have Professor Brown at USIU.  We are saying that these are interventions that will encourage girls to also aim high and aim for leadership positions."

    Women are also increasing their numbers and profiles in research institutions through such initiatives as the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development mentorship program.  The so-called AWARD program was launched in 2008 by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

    Research programs

    AWARD program director and founder Vicki Wilde says the initiative, which pairs junior female researchers with senior scientists, aims to increase women’s leadership skills and visibility as well as their scientific knowledge.

    She explains that in 2008, less than one in four agricultural researchers in the East Africa region were women, and less than one in seven were in management positions in agriculture institutions.

    "We are seeing quite dramatic changes," she said. "For example, from our first two rounds of AWARD fellows, almost one-quarter of them have been promoted and another quarter completed their Master’s or PhDs.  Almost half, 48 percent of our fellows, have received other awards: recognitions, fellowships, scholarships, grants."

    She says, in addition, there has been what she terms a “statistically significant increase” in participants’ publications, which means that their research is increasingly being recognized by the scientific community.

    She says AWARD receives nearly 3,000 applications for 250 two-year fellowships.  


    l

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora