Why not me? Why not us? Tackling the gender gap in Tanzania
Gender inequalities in higher education, research, publishing and policy making are often present but not recognized or acknowledged. Women face challenges in academia in many ways: interrupted or limited education, silent institutional gender bias within higher education and lack of senior role models who can mentor and support others can hinder women from progressing in higher education.
Since 2015, INASP has been supporting a group of female academics at the University of Dodoma in Tanzania to address the gender gap at their institution. Of the 694 academic staff members at the University of Dodoma only 175 were female. They found that in the whole university only five Tanzanian women have reached senior academic levels and there were no women in a senior leadership or College principal positions.
Working with INASP, University of Dodoma ran a gender sensitization workshop which allowed participants to relate their own personal and professional experiences to those of others. The impact was far-reaching. Following the initial workshop, participants became mobilized and motivated to create significant institutional change, including the formulation of a gender and sexual harassment policy that clearly stipulated the process of establishment of a gender unit and gender desks at the University. One of the academics who is leading this venture at the University is Professor Flora Fabian who has been an inspiration to many. She not only advocates for the need of mainstreaming gender in the university but also has been instrumental in formulating action plans and contributing to the design of INASP’s gender mainstreaming in higher education toolkit which has been developed for facilitators interested in introducing gender mainstreaming in higher education in order to challenge gender inequality.
“It is a fact that career in academia apply to both women and men. The qualifications should be the same. The development process should be the same. The requirements to ascend through the academic rankings are the same. But being a woman, we face several challenges”, Professor Fabian says.
She is of an opinion that the need to balance work and family responsibilities remain a constant struggle for women but she strongly believes that women need to come forward – and ‘working together’ is the key.
Finding their voice through the INASP programme, the women academics at the University of Dodoma are determined to pave the way for a future generation of female scholars. Watch the video entitled ‘Why not me? Why not us? Tackling the gender gap in Tanzania’ on INASP YouTube channel in which these women academics reflect on how gender issues have, since childhood, shaped their career pathways.
The video was developed by INASP, in partnership with University of Dodoma (UDOM), Tanzania. UDOM is one of the newest and largest universities in Tanzania.
Dr Sangita Shrestha, INASP, United Kingdom
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