COL in Uganda: Mainstreaming gender for improved policy and service

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The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) recognises that institutions can be catalysts for increased awareness of and advocates for gender equality to bring about social change. Gender-based analysis informs COL’s work and that of its partners to develop innovative interventions for building capacity and resources in gender mainstreaming.

Gender mainstreaming is a set of specific, strategic approaches as well as technical and institutional processes adopted to achieve the goal of gender equality. It aims to transform policy and practice in national public and private organisations, services and sectoral programmes.

Recently, COL supported Gulu University, Uganda in conducting a gender audit to document any gaps in policy, strategy and practice. With the participation of university management, a roadmap was developed to identify and address these gaps. The university has identified the priorities and is implementing the roadmap. Members of the audit team helped in the set-up of the Gender Mainstreaming Coordination Centre under the guidance of Dr Doreen Chemutai, Chief of the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate.

With technical guidance from COL, the Gender Mainstreaming Coordination Centre led a participatory review and update of the university’s Gender Policy (2017) and developed guidelines for monitoring and addressing workplace gender-based violence and mainstreaming curricula and programs. COL also helped build the internal capacity of the Gulu University gender task force to be able to conduct in-house sensitisation on gender equality for staff. The Vice-Chancellor, Secretary, Chief of Planning and Chief of Human Resources dedicated time to the review process, demonstrating their commitment to the process.

Dr Chemutai stated, “COL has been instrumental in building capacity for gender mainstreaming at Gulu University. Their support escalated attention to gender concerns and inclusion, which is observed in the commitment of the university management, staff, and students. Gulu University is immensely grateful to COL as we work together to create a more inclusive and equitable work environment.”

Dr Karen Nyangara, Gender Advisor COL, noted that COL’s role as an enabler and catalyst led to a quick turnaround in updating the university’s Gender policy and creating internal capacity to conduct gender sensitisation. The collaboration promotes a partnership for sustainable and enhanced impact. With the improved policy, Gulu University will further partner with COL to develop gender-responsive, community-based, lifelong learning ODL/OER-based programmes.

Moving forward, COL plans to actively engage with stakeholders – including students, staff members and the community – to foster a culture of gender equality and inclusivity.

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