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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Sierra Leone's 3-day Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid