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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More