Makerere University on 29th March 2023 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Stichting BRAC; an international development organization based in Bangladesh with a regional presence in Africa and seventeen years of operation in Uganda, to implement the Sir Fazle Hasan Abed Fellowship Programme for Women.
The MoU was signed on behalf of Makerere by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe and by the Executive Director, Mr. Shameran Abed on behalf of Stichting BRAC International.
The ceremony was witnessed by the BRAC Regional Director Africa-Ms. Rudo Kayombo, Associate Director of HRD, BRAC International-Ms. Aoishwariya Khisa, University Secretary-Mr. Yusuf Kiranda, Ag. Director Legal Affairs-Mr. Hudson Musoke, Ag. Director Gender Mainstreaming Directorate (GMD)-Ms. Susan Mbabazi, Deputy University Secretary-Mr. Simon Kizito, BRAC Uganda Country Director- Ms. Spera Atuhairwe and officials from Makerere and BRAC.
In his welcome remarks, Prof. Nawangwe congratulated BRAC upon commemorating 50 years of existence, noting that Makerere is proud to work and associate with the largest international development organization in the world, which was founded in the global South. He added that Makerere has since the Government’s introduction of affirmative action of 1.5 additional points for the girl child in 1990 been at forefront empowering women to access higher education at the institution.
“Most of the best schools in Uganda that were set up during the colonial era were for boys, which meant that girls were historically disadvantaged. Affirmative action has helped increase the enrolment of women from 10% to 52%” he added.
Makerere has since 1990 picked up the affirmative action baton and pioneered the gender mainstreaming agenda on the African continent. The Vice Chancellor added that the University’s gender mainstreaming efforts are have hugely impacted the leadership of public and private entities, with many Chief Executive Officers, Members of Parliament, leaders in academic and elsewhere being alumnae of Makerere.
Prof. Nawangwe nevertheless acknowledged that a lot remains to be done in terms of improving the number of women in leadership positions, and reiterated the University’s commitment to accomplish this through her Strategic Plan 2020-2030. The fourth pillar of Makerere’s strategic plan envisages “A Professionally Governed, Equitable, Inclusive and Gender Mainstreamed Institution”. He therefore thanked the Executive Director and his delegation for personally coming to Makerere to sign the MoU and reassured them of Management’s readiness to see to it that all activities therein are successfully undertaken.
Mr. Sherman Abed in his remarks congratulated Makerere upon commemorating 100 years of impactful existence and acknowledged that this was not the first time BRAC was collaborating with the University. He noted that the two institutions had in the past undertaken research projects and that BRAC was once again honoured to be collaborating with the premier university in the region.
“We are building the Sir Fazle Hasan Abed Fellowship across four universities at the moment. We have Brac University and the Asian University for Women, and Makerere University with whom we are very excited to sign the MoU today, and the University of Dar es Salaam” remarked Mr. Abed.
The Fellowship is part of BRAC’s Women Leaders Programme aimed at recognizing talented women and supporting their development and career progression. It is envisaged that through the fellowship Makerere University alumnae will become part of a stimulating women empowerment journey as a pathway to societal leadership roles.
The Executive Director added that BRAC as a result of working in some of the most vulnerable and marginalized communities in Asia and Africa is in a very unique position to drive South to South collaborations. “We are really excited to grow our work on the African continent and it is a very important focus area for us in our future direction.”
The Regional Director, Ms. Kayombo had earlier noted that BRAC’s work on the African continent started in Uganda, which is also home to its largest programme, “and so it is only fitting that we are here at Makerere today to sign this MoU”.
Speaking on behalf of Fellowship’s coordinating unit, the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate (GMD), Ms. Mbabazi expressed readiness to work with BRAC to enhance the position of women in leadership through the various activities. She noted that five out of the ten strategic areas of Makerere’s Gender Mainstreaming Policy are aligned with the proposed partnership with BRAC, especially with regard to women in leadership.
“A lot has been achieved to date; Makerere has supported over 1,200 female students with scholarships, which is very important for this partnership because it has created a pool of women who will eventually scale the leadership ladders” she explained.
Ms. Mbabazi added that GMD has with the support of various partners availed over 200 women with scholarships to pursue Masters and PhD programmes at Makerere. “Over 500 mid-level and senior staff of this University have benefited from our training programmes for women in leadership, and we have gone beyond the gates of Makerere and partnered with other public universities in Uganda to promote women in leadership and decision making.”
A proud alumna, the BRAC Uganda Country Director Ms. Spera Atuhairwe expressed joy at being back at her Alma mater after 25 years and seeing all the infrastructural development. She noted that BRAC has since its establishment in Uganda been committed to empowering communities both socially and economically with a special focus on women.
BRAC’s programmes in Uganda cut across the education sector, health sector as well as emergency and humanitarian response. Under education, the organization supports early childhood, secondary and university education through scholarships. The organization also works closely with community health workers who monitor and provide last-mile services to reduce challenges related to maternal and child health.
The organization through its emergency and humanitarian response initiative supports communities to build resilience to shocks and challenges associated with poverty. BRAC achieves this through providing these households with assets, opportunities, skills and access to financial services. The organization also supports agriculture at lower levels by availing farmers with improved seeds.
Source : Makerere University
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