Makerere University joins UNDP’s Gender Equality Seal for Public Institutions

October 10, 2022

Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe and UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Elsie Attafuah sign the Letter of Agreement. Looking on is Chancellor Dr. Ezra Suruma (L) and UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Ms. Sheila Ngatia.

UNDP Uganda/ Violet Namata

Makerere University has become the first public sector institution in Uganda to enroll in the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Gender Equality Seal initiative, designed to promote accountability for gender equality and women’s empowerment in public sector institutions.

A global UNDP-led initiative, the Gender Equality Seal supports and recognizes public institutions for their commitment to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. The initiative addresses five critical areas including: planning and management framework for gender equality goals, gender architecture and capacities, enabling working environment, partnerships for equality, and the results and impact.

According to Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, the university has been recognized for its commitment to promoting gender equality, having made efforts in creating an enabling policy environment through policies such as the Gender Equality Policy (2009) and the Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment (2017). This has promoted women’s participation in decision-making, gender balance in staff recruitment, student enrolment, retention, performance and integration of gender across learning programmes. 

However, despite the progress, there are still gaps in promotion of gender equality and these include low implementation of gender policies and existence of other gender-blind policies, lack of detailed gender disaggregated data in processes like recruitment, enrolment and progression, inadequate tracking and monitoring of student retention, limited gender-responsive planning, budgeting, and implementation.

It is against this backdrop that Makerere University voluntarily enrolled to undertake and pioneer the certification programme on Gender Equality Seal for Public Institutions (GES-PI). This commitment to the GES-PI process comes at a time when the academic institution is celebrating 100 years of existence with gender equality taking center stage in the institution’s priority areas.

UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Elsie Attafuah, speaks at the signing of the Letter of Agreement at Makerere University

UNDP Uganda/ Violet Namata

According to UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Elsie Attafuah, the Gender Equality Seal seeks to reinforce sustainability and acceleration of the gender equality agenda in Uganda’s public institutions. Following the signing of the Letter of Agreement, an awareness workshop was held, targeting senior management at the university.

The UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Ms. Sheila Ngatia, during Gender Equality Seal Awareness Workshop for Public Institutions

UNDP Uganda

Speaking during the Gender Equality Seal Awareness Workshop for Public Institutions at Makerere University, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Ms. Sheila Ngatia applauded the University Senior Management including the Chancellor Dr. Ezra Suruma and Prof. Nawangwe for demonstrating ownership of the certification process.

Ms. Ngatia noted that; “Attaining this certification is not just a milestone but will contribute to fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda for development, particularly the aspiration of achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls (SDG5).”

Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe speaks during the Gender Equality Seal Awareness Workshop for Public Institutions

UNDP Uganda

The workshop, organized to strengthen understanding of the GES-PI programme, was supported by the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa in partnership with UNDP Uganda and with overall technical guidance of the UNDP Global Gender Equality Seal team. The three-day workshop which was graced by members of the university management team comprising Finance and Administration, Principals, Deans and Directors would also contribute to building a pool of internal resource persons at the University, with hands-on experience to facilitate the rollout and operationalization of the GES.

UNDP’s Abdourahmane Dia (third from right) with Makerere University staff after receiving certifications after the Gender Equality Seal Awareness Workshop

UNDP Uganda/ Violet Namata

During the workshop, the Dean of School of Women and Gender Studies Dr. Sarah Ssali noted that the Gender Equality Seal Programme will help Makerere University mainstream gender and influence systems that will make gender equality more achievable.

Making gender mainstreaming a reality

Dr. Ssali stated, “It is not about just the seal; it is about reflecting on new ways of developing systems and processes until we make gender inclusivity part of the institution. We thank UNDP for enabling us to start this journey of reflection and developing a new system that is going to make gender mainstreaming even more achievable.”

Other participants noted that the workshop was timely. The Principal Planning Officer at Makerere University, Mr. Emmanuel Kitamirike said “I am delighted that Makerere University agreed to join the Gender Equality Seal Programme because we have been an icon for gender equality. This training has shown us that we have made some great progress, but we still have a long way to go. We need to ensure that our policies, budgeting processes, annual work plans and strategic planning, are gender-sensitive.” Mr. Kitamirike added that on a personal note, the training will enable him to ask the relevant questions during programming and policymaking meetings while ensuring that policies and results advance gender equality ideals.

Dr. Anna Ninsiima, a lecturer at Makerere School of Women and Gender Studies, further emphasized the importance of involving important decision-makers in such gender trainings, as it is very critical in mindset change and influencing the way issues of gender are handled. Dr. Ninsiima stated, “This training has been critical because it has been able to get these decision-makers and top management in one place to talk to them about gender equality, planning for gender and the architecture that we need to ensure that gender equality is fulfilled.”

UNDP Uganda has undertaken the Gender Equality Seal certification process and obtained a Gold Seal certification, highlighting the office’s commitment to increased gender parity at the workplace, provision of a safe working environment for staff, strengthened mainstreaming of gender in programming processes, and enhanced opportunities for resource mobilization.

Deepening gender in the private sector

UNDP is also supporting the Gender Equality Seal Programme for private sector institutions, where 90 private sector institutions have joined this initiative. As a result, institutions are adopting policies and strategies to promote gender equality in the workplace while there have been additional benefits in increased market attraction, increased profitability and creation of a safe and equal working environment for all.

The Gender Equality Seal for Public Institutions is, therefore, anticipated to position Makerere University to continue to champion and lead on gender equality with gender-responsive internal practices, policies and systems, and provision of a safe and equal environment for all.