Gender imbalance in higher education

Rwandan women will join fellow women from all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences to celebrate this years International women’s day. As we look back in history of about nine decades of women struggle fighting for equality, peace, justice and development, the great women of Rwanda should be acknowledged how far they have come from and their destiny in changing people’s perspective in women leadership.
Some members of Rwanda Association of University women (RAUW).
Some members of Rwanda Association of University women (RAUW).

Rwandan women will join fellow women from all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences to celebrate this years International women’s day.

As we look back in history of about nine decades of women struggle fighting for equality, peace, justice and development, the great women of Rwanda should be acknowledged how far they have come from and their destiny in changing people’s perspective in women leadership.

For so long, women have had a problem of lack of confidence (self perception) For example, the masters’ programmes running in universities in Rwanda have a big problem attracting women candidates. Many believe that they cannot succeed or simply they cannot just do it.

Prof. Verdiana Grace Masanja of National University of Rwanda (NUR) said that if having women representatives in parliament is possible, then it is also possible to have women in leadership positions in higher education institutions (HEI). If the 30 percent rule is enforced, each unit will make sure they get women there.

In a recently conducted gender baseline survey of five districts throughout Rwanda, revealed that there is a lot of gender blindness whereby many of the interviewed district officials both men and women believe that women are lazy and they don’t want to apply for leadership positions.

Almost all these focus group discussions had the same views as to why women leaders were very few if there at all.  In one district some interviewee officers commented on a Vice Mayor who left her children with house maids because she spent a lot of her time in meetings and traveling, which they all thought was very absurd.

Prof. Masanja also told The New Times that NUR will soon introduce and implementing a programme to promote women research and five women will be supported to do PhDs on a flexible funding mode.

“They will register at NUR, will be able to go with their young ones etc. They will be supported through a mentorship scheme to overcome gender related hurdles such as lack of confidence. A further 15 women will be paired with mentors with the aim to improve on research bidding, publications and above all to build confidence in research and publications. Surveys to compile profiles of all women academic staff of NUR will be conducted to assist identify their constraints for the mentors to be able to assist them appropriately.” She added.

The organization has already secured funding to support the whole system including some mentorship programmes that will build these women’s confidence.

Culture has been one of the reasons that women are not going for higher learning.

After the first degree, the society starts showing ladies that it is time to get married or rather pressuring that is already too late. Most of them end up abandoning to school any further just to please the society.

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