INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY CELEBRATIONS
International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day set aside to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and girls. This year’s celebration is on the theme “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”, the day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
The International Women’s Day celebrations presents a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.
First celebrated over 100 years ago, International Women’s Day has grown into a global celebration of past struggles and accomplishments of women, and more importantly an opportunity to look ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.
AAU Celebrates International Women’s Day
This year, the Association of African Universities (AAU) is joining forces with stakeholders around the world to raise awareness and call for renewed actions and support in promoting gender equality especially in academia.
We recognise that while gender is not the only axis of differentiation and power in Higher Education, it is indeed a critical one. One which requires actionable measures to be put in place to bridge the gender gap and ensure parity across all levels of higher education.
Study on Gender Equity Issues in African Universities
A study published by the AAU in 2014 presents some revealing findings in “Gender Equity Issues in African Universities”. Excerpts of this study is presented here to paint a picture of gender parity in Africa and African Higher Education in general.
“On the face of it, African regional bodies, governments and women’s organisations have adopted the gender agenda with enthusiasm. However, the meaning of even basic terms like women’s rights, gender equality and gender equity vary in interpretation and application across different African Countries.
Outlook of Women in Education
In addition to low average national gross enrollment ratio of women in tertiary education, there is little information on the proportion of women as a share of the total tertiary institution researchers. Information available on African countries suggests that women researchers on the continent are generally less than 35% with the exception of Tunisia, South Africa, Lesotho, Egypt, Central African Republic, Uganda and Rwanda where the population is marginally closer to parity (UNESCO 2012).
In terms of vertical representation of women in the sampled university of the Gender Equity Survey, the imbalance generally worsens the more senior the position or rank. On average, female representation was reported to be lowest (16%)at the highest governing board responsible for making institution-wide decisions.
The imbalance accentuated at the top governing bodies is significant given the breadth and depth of internal and external powers exuded by these institutional organs included but not limited to
- Passage of university bye-laws, rules and regulations
- Academic, administrative and senior personnel promotions and appointments
- Decisions finalising national and international agreements with other institutions and research centers
- Deliberations on budgets and business plan development, and the execution of financial management decisions
- Monitoring of account keeping and authority/oversight of annual audits
- Approval of mission and strategic plans
- Determination of fees and other dues to be paid by students
- Provision of advice to the Rector on questions of quality at the institution
- Liaison activities with government ministries (e.g Ministries of Education) “
Activities to mark the International Women’s Day
- A pledge for equality photo release session is being embarked on to raise awareness on issues relating to women’s empowerment and gender equality. (follow this campaign on twitter @AAU_67)
- AAU is publicising the toolkit for Mainstreaming Gender in Higher Education in Africa, developed in collaboration with the Working Group on Higher Education (WGHE) of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA)
- We are Profiling and celebrating women game changers in Africa – Feel free to nominate people and send us their pictures
- Partnership with an AAU member institution to host an event
- Frequent update of AAU social media pages with messages related to the Day’s celebration
We call on our members to share with us the various events being undertaken on their campuses to mark the day. Gender parity is indeed critical in moving African Higher Education forward!!!