BY SOLOMON MWIJE
Social institutions like schools and workplaces mould us to behave in a generalized manner. We find ourselves acting not only by our inner influences but exceptionally geared by how society requires us to behave with regards to our sexual identities.
This in simple terms is gender. Gender refers to the socially constructed distinctions between females and males and such distinctions relate to expected behaviours, roles, power to access and control resources, benefits and opportunities.
Gender mainstreaming in simple terms is a process of integrating gender perspectives institutional policies, programmes, or functions.
It is from such distinctions that gender inequalities are experienced, placing males on the upper stratum of the hierarchy in our social institutions.
Therefore, the rationale for institutional gender mainstreaming programme stems from such realizations to close the gender gaps between females and males.
Since the late 20th century, several strategies in form of policies and legislations concerning human rights and specifically women right have been made and others reformed to bring about gender equality within institutions at all levels.
Having gender mainstreamed in state policies and legislations does not necessarily mean that the ministerial, sectoral and institutional implementers will abide to such stipulated guidelines. Guided by centralized gender related policies, institutions create and build their own gender mainstreaming programmes to effectively reduce the gender gaps within.
Educational institutions have a great role to play because they reinforce what students and employees learn at family levels but also lay foundations for their futures.
This is one of the reasons why gender mainstreaming is important in educational institutions. Gender gaps can be released in teaching and learning, planning and innovations, leadership and governance, policy making, and in other university structures.
A gender mainstreaming programme gives mandate to the institutional management to mainstream gender in its daily endeavours and functions.
Makerere University commenced its gender mainstreaming programme in 2001 which was later integrated in their 10-year strategic plan for 2008/9 – 2018/19. The Makerere Gender Mainstreaming Directorate is charged with responsibilities related to gender awareness rising, training women in leadership skills, gender related research within and beyond the university as well as influencing university policy processes to integrate gender perspectives.
In 2014 Kyambogo University also approved and commenced gender policy with the aim of promoting gender equity, equality, and empowerment among staff and students.
UCU is a private university.
However, if we are to focus on its five core values, they are evident enough to justify the need for a gender mainstreaming programme.
Gender policies and programmes are needed to cater for the needs of students and employees. Every institution needs a gender mainstreaming policy to be able to promote gender equality through just and fair treatment.
If implemented well it helps in creating a conducive working environment for employees but most importantly for students to establish themselves for better learning even when gender related hurdles challenge them in lectures and offices.
UCU gender mainstreaming programme would help management to ensure that university system arrangements and functions are in line with national and international legal frameworks for promoting gender equality. Institutionalization of gender into the university strategic plan is of paramount importance for growth performance.
The writer is a lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences