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UNESCO Forum Occasional Paper Series Paper no. 11 Empowerment of Women in Higher Education in Africa: The Role and Mission of Research NDri Assi-Lumumba

Paper Commissioned by the UNESCO Forum Secretariat June 2006

Table of Contents

Introduction of the issues I. 1.1. 1.2. 1.3. Higher education in Africa within the global and historical contexts Social significance of higher education in Africa Gender parity and higher education: a general and global overview Historical roots of entrenchment of gender inequality in contemporary higher education in Africa State of gender in higher education in Africa Women in higher education: the basic quantitative facts Disciplinary distributions Women and research Nature of past achievements and the persistent challenges Achievements made Magnitude and persistence of challenges: financing higher education in general Special challenge of globalization

9 9 12 13 14 15 20 24 26 26 30 38

II. 2.1. 2.2. 2.3. III. 3.1. 3.2. 3.3. IV.

Institutionalization of gender-focused research and empowerment of women through research 4.1. A general reflection on women and research in Africa 4.2. Recent developments of gender units and research 4.3. A forward-looking approach to research as a systemic corrective and empowering mechanism

39 39 41 45 50 52-62 52 54 62 63 65 66-77 78

Conclusions Appendices Appendix 1: Appendix 2:

Institutions with courses, but no units, on gender/women Gender and womens studies teaching and research programmes at African universities Appendix 3: All-women universities

List of abbreviations Tables and Figues Bibliographical References Biography of Professor NDri T. Assi-Lumumba

Empowerment of women in higher education in Africa: the role and mission of research
by NDri T. Assi-Lumumba Professor, Africana Studies and Research Center Cornell University Ithaca, New York, USA Introduction of the issues In Africa, the quantitative and qualitative participation by gender in education systems, from the lowest level and up, unmistakably reveals the societal norms and constraints, the policy priorities, the possibilities, and the hindrance for social progress. Out of a variety of social and individual variables, gender remains the most universally entrenched, compounding the effects of other factors on life chances of individuals and groups for educational achievement and socioeconomic attainment. Education as a social institution is an instrument that facilitates the reproduction of social structures. However, of compelling interest to this paper is the realization that it also has the potential to provide the ground and impetus for change. The questions are: (i) How and through what mechanisms can it play this transformative role, with the expectation that it will create a new foundation for gender relations and equal opportunities for men and women? (ii) What role can research play in this process? These are the main guiding questions for this paper. Pragmatically, education systems and their respective spaces for acquisition and production of knowledge reflect patterns of quantitative and qualitative gender presence. Indeed, educational institutions of higher learning constitute a microcosm of society and its structural inequalities. They are dynamically related to society. The nature, type, content, and processes of education and the production of knowledge in institutions of higher learning reflect the power structure that defines research priorities and the topics, resource allocation, the position of various actual and potential agents of research in the decision-making processes and the ultimate control and transmission of knowledge. Gender relations in higher education space, the potential and actual opportunities for learning to acquire the tools, the capacity and legitimacy to conduct research, the roles that male and female members of society play as agents and subjects in the production of knowledge, and the relevance of research in their respective lives as distinct social categories and for society at large, reflect the nature of social structures. In Africa, the philosophy and practical organization of the contemporary systems of education inherited from the Western World have been primarily based on the principle of officially gender-neutral and co-educational space for learning and knowledge production. However, these systems tend to be de facto gendered and unequal, with the female population being disadvantaged in terms of simple access to education and the benefits accrued to the academic results and social outcome. The education for female and male populations in this

context has been conceived and organized as de jure similar and equal in the exposure, while the process and its social worth for the two groups with consequences for global society are de facto different and unequal. Some scholars have argued that the major problem in academia is power, rather than gender per se, and that what is needed to solve the gender problem is to actualize the democratization of the institution (Ronning, 2000). This perspective misses some important dimensions, especially when educational inequality is analyzed within the framework of dynamic historical processes. Inequality in academia cannot be considered gender-free. As will be argued later, even equal access does not translate into equality on every ground of education including output, outcome, and the value attached. There is in actuality perpetual mutation of the grounds of the application of de facto gender inequality. Yet, to permanently end this systemic problem of inequality that creates setbacks of achievements, national general frameworks and policies have often been designed in response to global calls for gender equality. Indeed, African states have signed international conventions within sub-regional and continental organizations from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU) and also worldwide organizations that call for gender equity in specific sectors such as education and labour. Thus, from the early years of the first independence, the Convention Against Discrimination in Education, was adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on 14 December 1960 and entered into force on 22 May 1962, which set the stage for a systematic alignment of African official discourses on global positions for gender equality. When OAU was created in 1963, the nominally independent African countries signed or ratified a number of major binding agreements including the historic African [Banjul] Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which was later adopted, in 27 June 1981, by the OAU (1981), and entered into force 21 October 1986. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) specifically stipulated in Article 10 that parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure equal rights with men in the field of education and in particular to ensure [rights] on a basis of equality of men and women (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, 1995:29). The World Education Forum from 26 to 28 April 2000 adopted the Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All (EFA). In the case of Africa, it was followed by the Johannesburg sub-Saharan Conference on EFA on Meeting our Collective Commitments as an integral part for the Framework for Action.1 In the same year of 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for measuring development progress in all countries up to 2015 were adopted. Given the objective conditions of African countries obviously adhered to the second target of the MDGs is universal primary
The other regional conferences were: Asia and Pacific Conference on the EFA 2000 Assessment, Bangkok; The Arab Regional Conference on EFA, Cairo; The Third Inter-Ministerial Review Meeting of the E-9 Countries, Recife; Conference on EFA in Europe and North America, Warsaw; and Regional EFA Conference in the Americas, Santo Domingo.

education for all (EFA) and the third goal aims at promoting the right of women and girls to enjoy equal educational opportunities with boys and men. 2 There is no doubt that African countries have made great strides in the first two decades that followed their respective political independence. However, the rate of change has been slow with major setbacks. The process has been summarized in another study as follows:
These international conventions and agreements have had, and continue to have, an impact on domestic laws, including the constitution and educational reform documents. However, the adoption of these laws becomes significant and meaningful only if they translate into policies articulated in reform documents with actual strategies for implementation. Despite considerable work in the research, design, and legal adoption of reform documents as well as genuine efforts to implement them assessment of the situation at the end of the twentieth century indicates that, in addition to the historical factors that hindered female enrolment in Africa, another set of factors emerged throughout the last hundred years. The new factors reinforce the effects of initial ones, and together they are entrenched in the systems and persist, sometimes with new dimensions, in the face of new local and global challenges. As a result, one of the main features of educational statistics on almost the whole continent is a low representation of the female population. (Assi-Lumumba, 2000a: 101).

When addressing the question of gender equity in all forms of education, the following significant dimensions require serious consideration: (1) Quality of access at all levels of education. (2) Factors that determine gender-specific attrition and the potential for retention. (3) Content of the programmes regarding both the formal curriculum and informal education in terms of the systemic values in educational institutions that hinder or promote a real gender-sensitive context. (4) Output in terms of cognitive knowledge. (5) Attitude and behaviour; and (6) Outcomes in terms of socio-economic attainment in relation to not only access to specific occupations, but the enabling context that harnesses the capacities and facilitates the realization of the full potential of women. Because the various levels of higher education are dynamically related, concerns at the higher education level must be related to the primary and secondary levels. Thus, the issue of initial access is relevant to the question of access to higher education. Another concern is what educational space, with regard to gender, must be envisioned to help decisively eradicate gender inequality. Thus, issues related to the merits and hindering factors pertaining to womens access to higher education and their role in research must also be analyzed within the context of the coeducational space for learning and knowledge production, the context that influences research.

Millennium Development Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education. Target: Ensure that by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. Millennium Development Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women Target: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and to all levels of education no later than 2015.

Since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, Fourth World Conference on Women, 15 September 1995, the concept of gender mainstreaming has been further popularized. The arguments about womens location in society have changed since the earlier version of integration and gender equality, and have proceeded to the articulation of womens unique ability with potential contributions to a mainstream widely dominated by men. There are several assumptions that are related to gender mainstreaming methodology and which are important to recall, given their role in defining the philosophical grounds for the conception, formulation, and implementation of policies geared towards eliminating the gender gap and fostering the empowerment of women and social development. This paper deals with the role of education, particularly in research, as a key component of the role and mission of higher education in addressing the immediate and long-term search for gender equity. More specifically, the question of the empowerment of women in the context of academia, considering women as social agents that have the capacity to foster structural change using research as a tool, is critically examined. According to the terms of reference, this paper aims to more specifically: Analyse power differences regarding resources (time, equipment, financial, human) between men and women within higher education and research institutions. Examine regional trends and developments on the empowerment of women in the African context with regard to knowledge production, and Reveal the most unyielding barriers to be overcome. In spite of the fact that the need to generate gender-disaggregated data has been consistently articulated in the context of womens conferences and programmes for years, it is difficult to practically analyse the differences regarding resources (time, equipment, financial, human) by gender, with regard to public expenditure. Indeed, there are more and more data on gender inequality in terms of access, attrition, and retention at different levels of the education systems. But there are still few ways to assess the progress regarding the formulation and implementation of policies and the actual transformative capacity embedded in these policies through the allocation of public resources, an unequivocal indicator of real commitment to change. These are some of the key issues that are addressed in this paper. This paper is essentially a reflective essay with a conceptual articulation of the arguments. There are also data and other secondary sources from books, articles and reports as well as other information from the World Wide Web that are used in the analysis. The arguments are built and presented within the methodological framework of historical-structuralism. This is based on fundamental principles and assumptions that the structure of society, its institutions and policies, from the local to the international levels, are defined by socio-historical contingencies within the global world context. The analysis of higher education institutions in Africa, especially universities, fits well in the framework of the world system. The historical origin in the colonial context and post-colonial trajectory of the African institutions of higher learning explain the location of women and gender at the margin. In short, this paper focuses on the role of research as a mechanism for centring women and gender in the higher education process.

Section I of this paper recalls the societal role, historical factors and established patterns of gender representation in higher education in Africa. Section II examines the state of the quantitative distribution of higher education by gender in Africa, the disciplinary distribution gender in African higher education today referring to both past and contemporary situations. Section III discusses specifically the nature of past achievement and the persistent challenges. Section IV, the final section, deals with recent developments and calls for the institutionalization of gender-focused research and the empowerment of women through their permanent integration into the institutions and processes of knowledge production and utilization. Finally, the Conclusions offer a definite reflection on the future of gender-related issues in Africa through both past mistakes and future steps to take for empowerment.


Higher education in Africa within the global and historical contexts

Higher education is not the sole space but it is, without any doubt, central to the acquisition and production of knowledge that shapes the contemporary world. In African states, social institutions of higher learning are still mostly being organized according to the parameters of the colonial legacies with regards to the nature of the institutions, and the criteria of access to them. This section recalls the making of higher education institutions in African contemporary nation-states as background information in understanding the roots and contemporary challenges of the structural gender imbalance, and the location of research in promoting the eradication of this inequality. While higher education encompasses a wide spectrum of institutions, the focus in this paper is on universities, given the importance of research in their missions. 1.1. Social significance of higher education in Africa

In his assessment of the state of higher education in the early 1990s, Coombe (1991) pointed out the continued centrality of higher education, especially the universities, in spite of the profound and prolonged economic crisis and its damaging impact on the staff, infrastructure, and programmes when he wrote:
the universities remain great national storehouses of trained, informed, inquiring and critical intellects, and the indispensable means of replenishing national talent. They have considerable reserves of leadership and commitment on which to draw. Impoverished, frustrated, dilapidated and overcrowded as they may be, they have no substitutes. (Coombe, 1991:1).

The first wave of creating post-colonial African universities took place during the 1960s, which was declared by the United Nations as the Development Decade. Furthermore, when most African countries acquired their nominal independence in the 1960s, the human capital theory was popular in industrialized countries such as the United States (US) where education was expected to be a powerful instrument for redressing the structural inequality embedded in society. The human capital theory became even more popular in the developing countries, including African countries. Even in African countries that were still struggling for political independence, this theory was injected into the nationalist discourse and liberation agenda. This theory assumes a linear and positive relationship between education and development, both at the individual and societal levels: The higher a persons level of education, the higher their productivity. In the neo-classical conception, a persons marginal productivity determines their income. At the societal level of states, the higher the aggregate level of education in a particular nation, the higher the level of development as measured by many classical indicators such as GNP per capita. As Olujuwon (2002:2) recalls, the National Policy on Education (NPE 1998) in Nigeria, for instance, articulates the specific goals of post-secondary education as follows: Contribute to national development through high-level relevant manpower [sic] training. Develop and inculcate proper values for the survival of the individual and the society.

Develop the intellectual capability of individuals to understand and appreciate their local and external environments. Acquire both physical and intellectual skills, which will enable individuals to be self-reliant and useful members of the society. Promote and encourage scholarship and community service; and Forge and consolidate national identity and unity and promote national and international understanding and cooperation.

The idea of the university as an effective and necessary instrument to achieve socioeconomic development was articulated by educational and political decision-makers in official documents and discourse. Even after years of stagnation and setbacks due in part to the economic crisis of the 1980s and the infamous and counter-productive solutions of the international institutions, specifically the World Bank, the Association of African Universities (AAU)/World Bank Report, 1997:2) sums up the persistent centrality of the university by stating:
Universities play a more important national role in Africa than in other regions. They are frequently the most effectively performing institutions in their countries. They house the bulk of the continents research capability and technical (consultancy) expertise. They are often the only national institutions with the skills, the equipment, and the mandate to generate new knowledge through research; the level of skills concentration in African universities is higher relative to the rest of society than anywhere else in the world.... University roles in research, evaluation, information transfer, and technology development are therefore critical to social progress and economic growth ... For the immediate future, African universities will continue to be the principal producers of national political officials, public administrators, business managers, secondary school teachers, and civic leaders. How well they carry out this responsibility will be a major determinant of their countries future prospects. (AAU/World Bank Report, 1997:2).

In international fora and at the national level, African leaders set objectives of educational expansion for the ultimate goal of providing the required human resources to achieve socio-economic development. By any standards, African countries made striking achievements in increasing the number of students from the primary to the higher education levels, especially at the tertiary level where colonial administrations had the most restrictive policies of access. However, despite the impressive quantitative achievements of the 1960s and 1970s, African education systems have been characterized by high structural inequality with regard to region, rural or urban residence, religion, ethnicity, social class, and gender. Of all these factors, gender has been the most widespread and persistent basis for inequality in opportunity for access to schooling, and educational output and outcome (e.g. socio-economic and socio-political attainment). The overwhelming majority of African countries are characterized by underrepresentation of the female population in their respective education systems. The economic crisis that started in the 1980s had an impact on both ends of the education systems in terms of reduced financial resources allocated to education and fewer employment opportunities for the graduates as the governments which had been the main employers were unable to create new jobs. The solutions to the economic crisis that were proposed to the African governments by international institutions, especially the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) put even more drastic negative impact on both ends through


the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) and Stabilization Policies (SP). They imposed budgetary decrease and user fees paid by students and their families, and implementation of policies of the freezing of salaries of public employees, lay-offs, and induced early retirements with no replacement. Although user fees applied to education even at the primary level, these international institutions, however, officially supported the expansion of basic education. They however unleashed consistent assault on higher education, especially the universities (AssiLumumba and Lumumba-Kasongo, 1996; Mkandawire and Soludo, 1999). These policies, including those that applied to basic education, have had immediate and long-term impact by hindering any effort to eradicate gender inequality. The attack on African higher education mirrors a trend to be found in higher education systems worldwide as institutions used to a large degree of autonomy and preferential funding comes under increasing scrutiny (Brock, 1996: abstract). It has been argued (Assi-Lumumba, 1994) that the various interest groups involved in the debate on access to higher education, which includes parents, students, families, lecturers, researchers, administrators, and the government perceive and experience the problems differently. As Sawadago (1994) points out, one of the greatest achievements of the African universities since the 1980s is the high rate of student enrolment in almost all the universities, despite the policies promoted by the SAPs that aimed at restricting the number of new students. However, the opportunities were not distributed equitably according to gender (Assi-Lumumba, 1994). Statistics show an increase in the raw numbers of female students in higher education. However, high attrition rates in the lower levels of the education systems constitute a persistent problem as they lead to low enrolment at the higher education level. Women in higher education institutions have been consistently under-represented in teaching, research and academic administrative positions of high status. In addition to their small, and at times truly negligible, numbers, they tend be clustered in the lower levels of the academic occupational ladder (Humm, 1996; Quina, Cotter and Romenesko, 1998; Eholi, 2007; Houphout-Boigny and Koblavi Mansilla, 2007; Meena, 2007). Yet, all African countries still consider the role of higher education as critical in actualizing their respective national development agendas. Indeed, it is the highest level of education that produces graduates with the requisite human relations, critical thinking and technical skills to participate in national and international decision-making and problem solving. Ironically, in spite of its disruptive, hindering, and destructive role in the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, even the World Bank (2002) reiterated in its Constructing Knowledge Societies the importance of higher education in general and in the training of a qualified and adaptable labour force, including high level scientists, professionals, technicians, and teachers; the generation of new knowledge; and the capacity to access existing stores of global knowledge and adapt it for local use. While the questions, of which knowledge, for what use and for whose interest, are pertinent these statements are non-refutable facts. Before analyzing further the gender factor in African higher education, it is worth presenting an overview of some aspects of the recent discourse on the factors and measurements


of gender inequality with a focus on the gender parity index. This general discussion can help locate the African situation. 1.2. Gender parity and higher education: a general and global overview

Gender inequality in higher education is, as indicated in the introduction, a reflection of broader societal structural inequality. This inequality is explained by the dynamic interface of various explanatory factors with individual and/or combined weight that vary according to different historical moments. In Africa, external factors under the formal colonial rule played a decisive role, while the choices made by African policy-makers and socio-cultural factors became more prominent in the post-colonial era. Although African states and populations are supposed to assume control over major policy decisions, colonial history continues to influence current polices. By now the factors, the categories of factors, that constitute a hindrance to gender balance in educational opportunity are known and can be grouped into socio-economic, socio-cultural, socio-political and institutional categories. The most relevant variables and their respective weight inevitably reflect the internal dynamics of each country. They encompass factors ranging from the broader political context, the characteristics of the community, the family, and the potential/actual students, teachers qualification, the curriculum, the institutional climate, and so forth that affect demand and supply negatively or positively. As Usher and Cervenan (2005) explain, there are worldwide problems in ensuring equality of educational opportunity and the distribution of the benefits that are associated with the different levels of education that people with different socio-economic conditions may be able to achieve. These benefits apply to the life experiences of individuals and groups, and thus, are not limited to simple monetary returns. Indeed, in spite of the controversy about the human capital theory, there are positive correlations between female educational attainments and capacity to make informed decisions about various aspects of life including health, marriage, and reproduction. Although the relationship is not simply linear, there is a positive correlation between educational attainment and economic productivity, exercise of social and political responsibility and the authority to demand the respect of individual and groups rights. Thus, these benefits must be analysed in relation to the fundamental issues of basic human and equal rights to access every level and type of education and opportunities to use the knowledge acquired to bring informed insight into social and political decision-making processes, and the production and various forms of utilization of knowledge particularly as it shapes public policy and affects collective wellbeing (Assi-Lumumba, 2007). That is where the fundamental issues of gender and equal opportunity take their full meaning. In Global Higher Education Rankings, Usher and Cervenan (2005) articulate the complexity of the assessment of access, participation, and attainment and the various determinants and measurement indicators. The determinants include the actual availability of places and the social factors that determine the real chances to enrol. The various indicators with varying weights, especially when addressing the specific issue of gender equity include the Educational Equity Index (EEI), and the Gender Parity Index (GPI).


Table 1. Gender Parity Index (GPI) accessibility rankings Gender Parity Index 0.92 1.08 1.18 1.19 1.23 1.23 1.24 1.27 1.29 1.34 1.34 1.35 1.54 Distance from Parity 0.08 0.08 0.18 0.18 0.23 0.23 0.24 0.27 0.29 0.34 0.34 0.35 0.54

Rank (of 13) 1 (tie) 1 (tie) 3 4 5 (tie) 5 (tie) 7 8 9 10 (tie) 10 (tie) 12 13

Country Germany Netherlands Belgium Austria Finland UK Australia France Ireland Canada Italy USA Sweden

Source: Education Policy Institute, 2005.

While some countries and regions in the world have made noticeable changes in the policies and subsequent achievements regarding higher education, in Africa there has not been any substantive change in the philosophy and the practical polices of education. The conception of education that, in the late 1950s and in the 1960s, was guided by human capital and a focus on male labour has not evolved. Thus, the policies of gender equity and the overall literature on gender, development and education do not address higher education, particularly university education and the context of producing knowledge as a power base (Assi-Lumumba, 2007; Gaidzanwa, 2007; Meena, 2007; Odora-Hoppers, 2007). 1.3 Historical roots of entrenchment of gender inequality in contemporary higher education in Africa

Historically, the current African higher education institutions were created with direct connection to their instrumental roles as institutions that must provide technical knowledge for practical purposes. The philosophy was essentially the same in all the African contexts regardless of the differences in the education policies of the colonial powers. Vocational/technical schools called colleges Gordon Memorial College in Khartoum (Sudan), Makerere Government College in Kampala (Uganda), Yaba Higher College in Lagos (Nigeria), the Princess of Wales School and College in Achimota (Ghana) and Fourah Bay College in Freetown (Sierra Leone), that were created between the end of the nineteenth century and the period between the First and Second World Wars in British colonies, formed the foundation of higher education institutions in former British colonies. The French, with the higher education centres in Dakar (Senegal), Tananarive (Madagascar) and Abidjan (Cte dIvoire) and the Belgians in the Congo conceived their higher education institutions literally at the dawn of the formal end of colonization. Nevertheless, there are no significant conceptual differences between the earlier institutions and the most recent ones, nor were there initially


different philosophies with regards to the gender dimension in formal education in general and the levels that eventually led to higher institutions. Europeans in general, at that time, had not adopted any gender-equality policies in access, output, and outcome in their own countries. In Africa, the interface of colonial policies that prevented Africans from benefiting from the same education as the Europeans and the transfer of the cultural foundation of gender inequality prevalent in Europe led to a double jeopardy that was later reinforced further by additional African factors, specific to the African cultural context. According to Olujuwon (2002:1) in Nigeria, the establishment of Yaba Higher College marked the beginning of higher education in Nigeria. The purpose was to produce assistants who would relieve colonial administrators of menial tasks. The European colonial administration made it clear that the African males constituted their target population. Higher education was in fact a continuation of policies of access and progress in the system from the lower levels. Manya, 2000 (in Morley, 2003:10) observes that in Kenya the development and purpose of European universities was used as a model for those in Africa. African universities were established to nurture an African male elite who, even though they de facto were conceived as subordinate to European rulers, could relate well with the concerns of European colonial masters whose social structure of power was essentially patriarchal. Following this tradition set at the inception of higher education in Africa, university education has generally favoured the male populations due to the prevailing cultural and social attitudes in society and the subsequent policies and practices whose explanatory factors are quite well known. There are social values that were inherited from colonial policies and that have persisted in Africa even when major changes have taken place in former colonial powers that transferred such values. The conjunction of such values with cultural factors and timid policies leads to the persistent gender imbalance in higher education throughout Africa. Steady (2002) has eloquently articulated the historical foundation of the marginalization of African women in the institutions of higher learning as a colonial legacy. She argues that international financial institutions that act like contemporary proxies of the past colonial systems are perpetuating imperial policies. II. State of gender in higher education in Africa

African higher education, at the beginning of the New Millennium, faces unprecedented challenges. According to Ndulu (2004), the combined effects of the two fronts of capital flight, in terms of monetary and human resource outflow, profoundly hinder development of African agendas. Higher education institutions with their own limited infrastructures and resources have the responsibility of producing capable graduates that can fill the gaps and meet the needs. These needs include meeting the challenges of global education, gaining access to, and making effective use of, new global knowledge-sharing mechanisms, information technology, networking and distance education.



Women in higher education: the basic quantitative facts

Higher education continues to play a vital role, which is likely to increase further, in the new knowledge-based and globalizing economy. Thus, beyond the question of the fundamental right to education of all levels, acquiring knowledge to navigate the complexities of this world is a necessity for everyone especially the groups that have been hitherto marginalized. Bloom, Canning, and Chan (2005) also rightly point out that:
Enrolment rates in higher education in sub-Saharan Africa are by far the lowest in the world. Although the gross enrolment ratio (GER) has increased in the past 40 years it was just 1 per cent in 1965 it still stands at only 5 per cent. [Statistical evidence] shows that the absolute gap by which it lags behind other regions has increased rapidly. The regions present enrolment ratio is in the same range as that of other developing regions 40 years ago. Moreover, gender disparities have traditionally been wide and remain so. (Bloom, Canning and Chan 2005:5).

Ngome (2003) observes that while there are some improvements in the enrolment of female students in some private higher education institutions, the female representation in public institutions is still low, with only about 30 per cent of total enrolments in the public universities. Yet, the public institutions have the largest proportion of all the available higher education facilities and places. In the case of Sierra Leone, the Christian Institute founded at the beginning of the nineteenth century by the Church Missionary Society of Britain became Fourah Bay College (FBC) affiliated with Durham University in the United Kingdom (UK) in 1876 and started preparing students for degrees. In this case, the longer existence of these institutions does not provide any advantage in terms of more favourable opportunities for women in student enrolment as shown in Tables 2 and 3.
Table 2. Student enrolment at the University of Sierra Leone (USL): 1999-2000.



Number Female

Percentage Female

Fourah Bay College 1,568 299 19 Njala University College 820 98 12 College of Medicine and Allied 169 42 25 Sciences Institute of Public Administration 446 124 28 and Management Total 3,003 563 19 Source: Kandeh, Country Education Profiles: Sierra Leone, <> with some figures computed by the author.


Table 3. Staff members at University of Sierra Leone (USL) by institution and gender: 1999-2000. Institutes/Colleges Fourah Bay College Njala University College College of Medicine and Allied Health Services Institute of Public Administration Institute of Education Secretariat Total Total 713 532 161 80 38 60 1,584 Number Female 135 96 40 8 279 Percentage Female 19 18 25 21 83

Source: Kandeh, Country Education Profiles: Sierra Leone, <> with some figures computed by the author

The special interest in the case of Sierra Leone, particularly Fourah Bay College which has been referred to as The Athens of West Africa (Paracka, 2003) stems from some major development in the discourse on which type of education for the African, and the role of the liberal arts college in the reaffirmation of African agency back in the nineteenth century. There was indeed a critical debate on the fundamental question of which education for the Africans. In what was referred to as the Freetown Debate, James Johnson and Edward Blyden advocated a liberal arts/classical education that would link contemporary Africa with African Ancient civilizations, which would position Africa more objectively and positively on the world scale. Johnson and Blyden were critical of missionary education that they considered Eurocentric and deliberately limiting as its content focused on the period since the beginning of the transatlantic enslavement. For them, this historical cutting point was deliberately decided by the Europeans to avoid the possibility of having to offer enlightenment. They consider the education policies and curricula in the context as contaminated by the race poison (Ajayi et al.,1996:20). However, when Blyden became the President of Liberia College, he produced and maintained a very strong classical European-type of curriculum. Blyden also advocated studies of African languages in relation to the provision of higher education. The gap between the strong belief by Blyden in the capacity of the people of African descent to establish solid African-centred institutions and the experience of Liberia College under his leadership, constituted a prelude to the major contemporary issues of entrenched neo-colonial influence in African institutions of higher learning and the African continent. The seeds of the contemporary gender gap were being planted. Indeed, gender matter and inequality as an obvious major source of concern were neglected in these debates initiated by men of African descent. Even in the former British colonies where gender gaps are less wide, still the legacy of gender inequity has been reproduced, including Sierra Leone, which had an early start. Thus, the unequal educational opportunity in initial and basic access lead to what Manya (2000) sums up


as the perpetuation of policies of a small western-educated male elite that is almost programmed to cater to Europeans at the expense of the Africans. The case of Malawi where until the mid1980s, only male students were expected to take courses in Engineering (Semu and Kadzamira, 1995). Former French colonies have generally even wider gender gaps. Sahelian countries, which are also at the same time former French colonies, register the lowest enrolment rates from primary to higher education levels. Despite its proclaimed generously universalistic assimilation policy, the French colonial administration designed for the colonies an education system that was racially unequal and highly elitist and selective. This is the case even if initially only primary education, which was reserved to the masses in metropolitan France, was transferred to African countries (Assi, 1982). Indicators of gender inequality were clearly imbedded in the system. In addition local factors including religion and other socio-cultural traditions and economic constraints have created formidable gender-specific barriers.
Table 4. Student enrolment at the University of Ouagadougou 1995-2001. Total Enrolment Number Female Male Percentage 6,339 2,086 25 % 1,856 23 % 1,809 23 % 2,049 23 % 2,407 23 % 2,599 23 % 12,806 26 % Scholarship Number Female Male Percentage 2,019 534 21 % 410 19 % 329 18 % 297 21 % 280 17 % 324 18 % 2,174 19 % Non-scholarship Number Female Male Percentage 3,905 5,342 3,838 1,437 27 % 1,329 26 % 1,369 25 % 1,589 25 % 1,941 26 % 2,168 24 % 9,833 25 %

Academic Year 1995/96




1997/98 1998/99 1999/2000 2000/01 Total

6,061 6,764 7,993 8,678 35,886

1,477 1,385 1,345 1,441 9,424

4,153 4,844 5,962 6,835 29,537

Source: Burkina Faso, Direction des Affaires Acadmiques et Scolaires., with percentage computed by the author

Indeed, there are societal factors and values, such as the pressure on girls to marry and obstacles, in the educational institutions, that lead to the persistent gender disparity, especially in Sahelian/Islamic countries such Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal where less than 30 per cent of school age girls enrol (Carr, 1994). Thus, for instance 4in Senegal, the number of female


students increased from 44 per cent in 1980 to 47 per cent in 1995. Yet in 1998, females represented only 26.25 per cent of the total number of students at the Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD). The only schools where the number of female students is above average at UCAD are Medicine (36.15 per cent), Law and Political Science (31.19 per cent), and the Ecole des Bibliothcaires, Archives et Documentalists (EBAD) (30.05 per cent). The percentage is lower at the school of Sciences and Technology (Facult des Sciences et Techniques, FST) (12.52 per cent), the Advanced National Institute for Physical Education (INSEPS) (Institut National Suprieur dEducation Physique et Sportive) (11.86 per cent), and teachers school (18.02 per cent). (Ndiaye, 2003). The gender gap in access to education is one of the areas that differentiate economically advanced from developing countries. Indeed, despite lingering restrictive factors, by and large women in industrialized countries have been immensely benefiting from the expansion of educational opportunities. In contrast, in developing countries, especially in Africa, there are still historical, cultural, and economic factors that have been hindering womens chances for access to and benefits from formal education especially at the tertiary level (UNESCO, 1993). Discrimination along the gender line has been firmly established throughout the African continent and constitutes the most widespread expression of injustice in educational opportunity in terms of access and achievement. As Ajayi et al., (1996:186) point out, currently, the percentage of women in higher education level institutions in sub-Saharan Africa is only 25 per cent of total enrolment and this is much lower than at the secondary level, and this latter is, in turn, lower than that at the primary level. The consistently gender-based unequal distribution is a reflection of profound structural problems. Thus, the analysis of the numbers must be more sophisticated to capture the complex reality behind and underneath the data. While gender has become more part of the mainstream discourse on higher education in industrialized countries, studies are still scarce in other countries, especially in Africa. Morley (2003:9) found that even in the more economically advanced countries, numerous studies in the case of Commonwealth countries, 3 for instance, confirm the difficulties at the policy, institutional, organizational, and micro-political level of putting into place strategies for social inclusion in higher education institutions (HEIs). Yet, there is no evidence of vigorous and sustained efforts to eliminate the gender gap. There are reports that indicate increase in female enrolment and even gender parity at the primary level [Kelly, 1989, (Rathgeber, 1991); United Nations, 1995]. There are even some subregional variations in the continent. For instance, in Southern African there is a narrower gender gap. There are also national situations or localities within countries where the female enrolment rates are higher than those of males. It is the case at the primary school level in Botswana and Namibia (United Nations, 1995). The case of Lesotho is exceptional with female overrepresentation up to the university. There are some other intervening factors such as in Tanzania
3 In the UK: Bagilhole (2002); David, (2003); Eggins (1997); Howie and Tauchert (2002); Morley (1999; 2003a/b) and Deem and Ozga (2000); in Australia: Brooks and MacKinnon (2001); Burton (1997); Chesterman (2002); Currie, Thiele and Harris (2002); Probert et. al. (1998), in Canada: Acker (1996); Wyn et al. (2000), in New Zealand: Brooks (1997), in South Africa: De La Rey (2001) and in Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand: Luke (2001).


where female higher enrolment is at record levels in private secondary schools in Arusha and Kilimanjaro (Vavrus, 1997). Yet higher education continues to be clearly identified with the male, especially in Science and Technology and in Management. In her analysis of the case of Nigeria, Pereira (2002:1) notes that although university systems tend to be spoken of in gender neutral terms, the effects of their workings are far from gender neutral, as illustrated by the proportions of women among the academic staff in Nigerian universities in 1996/97: 9.2 per cent in Social Sciences; 12.8 per cent in Sciences, 14.7 per cent in Arts and 22.2 per cent in Education. Similarly, the distribution of students in Science and Technology reflected the same pattern of male overrepresentation as illustrated by the 1996 National Universities Commission (NUC) data that revealed that of the students in Nigerian universities enrolled in Science, only 31.7 were women. The corresponding proportions in Social Sciences and Arts were 37.6 per cent and 44.6 per cent respectively (Pereira, 2002). Gaidzanwa (2007) analyzes the University of Zimbabwe as an unfriendly and overtly gender-based hostile environment for both female students and staff members. Mlama (1998; 2001) cites, among many indicators of the unwelcoming sphere of the higher education characterized by its maleness, sexual harassment, the shortcomings of the lecturers whose poor preparation and lack of awareness make it practically impossible for female students to benefit fully from their learning experience, especially in hitherto male-dominated subjects, in which the few enrolled female students have to endure loneliness and lack of support from fellow female students. The patterns of female under-representation in Science is similar in Ghana where Effah (2003) reported the overall female enrolment from 21 per cent in 1991-1992 to only 26 per cent in 1998/99, while in the Polytechnics the figures are even lower, with 1993/94 in 16 per cent and 21 per cent 1998/99. Some of the promising solutions include the creation by the Ministry of Education (MoE) of Science Resource Centers (SRCs) and the institution of a Science, Technology, and Mathematics Education (STME) clinic for girls. In Kenya Ngome (2003) reports that gender parity is consistently observed throughout the accredited private universities, with women constituting 54.5 per cent of the 1999-2000 total student enrolments. The author further specifies that: Most women enrol in private universities because they fail to secure admission into the public universities, owing to their poor performance, on the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education; and because the course offerings in the private institutions are in the social sciences, education, arts, business administration, accounting, and computer science (Ngome, 2003:361). This observation calls for further analysis and scrutiny. Indeed, in terms of access to education, especially the higher education level, gender is a good proxy for socio-economic status (SES). That is to say the higher the socio-economic status the bigger the chance, for both males and female youth, to enrol in education and pursue their studies until the higher education level. Given the cost of the private higher education institution, it is safe to state that those who have the financial means are able to afford the cost. Therefore, it is important to undertake studies on these private institutions to determine the patterns of access based on social class and the distribution of those who enter these institutions.


However, studies show consistently that, like many other social factors, gender does not constitute a variable that acts alone. It is indeed the interface of gender and other socially significant factors that constitutes a solid block of obstacle. In terms of simple access, gender is a hindering factor for the female population of lower socio-economic status. In cases where initial enrolment rates are very low among school-age girls, even parity in the private higher education institutions cannot statistically close the initial gender gap. Furthermore, considering the fact that research is more located in universities, the lower representation of women, both as students and staff, particularly as teaching staff, remains a crucial problem regarding womens participation in the acquisition and production of knowledge. 2.2. Disciplinary distributions

The major issue in terms of womens occupations, their lack of participation in, or chances for contribution to research are determined in great part by their initial distribution into the different disciplinary tracks. In Francophone countries, by the middle of secondary school, students are assigned to tracks that define the remainder of their secondary education, their respective fields of study at the higher education level and their subsequent professional careers. While a few students in scientific tracks may transfer to Humanities and Social Sciences, the reverse is practically impossible. Thus, there have been persistent gender clusters of fields of study and research leading to a process of feminisation/lowering value and solidly masculine/greater value of disciplines (Beoku-Betts, 2007).
Table 5. Summary of students distribution by faculties and gender in the University of Cape Coast, Ghana: 1999/2000. Faculty/Department Arts Agriculture Education Social Sciences Science Total Male Number 360 555 2,876 1,784 580 6,155 Female Number 243 80 1,028 624 116 2,091 Total Number 603 635 3,904 2,408 696 8,246

% 60 % 87 % 74 % 74 % 83 % 75 %

% 40 % 13 % 26 % 26 % 17 % 25 %

Source: University of Cape Coast (2000) Basic Statistics Cape Coast: University Planning Unit.


Table 6. Distribution of students in the Faculty of Arts by sex and programmes in the University of Cape Coast, Ghana: 1999/2000 Programme/Level B.A. Arts level 100 B.A. Arts level 200 B.A. Arts level 300 B.A. Arts level 400 Sub-Total M.Phil Yr.1 M.Phil Yr.1 Sub-total Total Male N 52 130 77 70 329 19 12 31 360 Male % 55 70 51 51 58 86 92 89 60 Female N 43 56 74 66 239 3 1 4 243 Female % 45 30 49 49 42 14 8 11 40 Total N 95 186 151 136 568 22 13 35 603

Source: University of Cape Coast (2000). Basic Statistics Cape Coast: University Planning Unit. Table 7. Enrolment by gender and degree programme in Public Universities in Kenya (1990-1995) Number of Students Percentage per programme Degree Programme Male Female Male Female Education 37,932 19,320 66.3 33.7 Humanities and 37,488 11,405 76.7 23.3 Social Sciences Natural Science 15,037 2,466 85.9 14.1 Agriculture and Vet. 12875 1,851 87.4 12.6 Medicine Engineering and 7,974 1,139 87.5 12.5 Architecture Medicine and 3,416 837 80.3 19.7 Pharmacy Total 114,722 37,038 75.6 24.4 Source: Percentages computed from figures generated from 2002 JAB records by Mwiria and Ngethe (2002). The Report of the African Union Commission (AUC) The road to gender equality in Africa: an overview indicates, in its section on Gender profile of tertiary education that Again the overall enrolment at the tertiary level is very low with the equivalent of less than 5 per cent


of the age group enrolled with the exception of Mauritius, Namibia and South Africa. (African Union Commission, 2004:17). From their inception, particularly at the time of independence in the context of the global recognition of education as an investment in the future, universities in Africa have been considered to have a unique capacity to provide the necessary human resources and relevant knowledge to promote national development. Contrary to widespread perception and assumption, technology is not gender-neutral. Thus access to, and utilization of technology will reflect major societal values. Thus, in Africa, based on misconception, women students tend not to enrol in fields of Science, Technology, Engineering (Rathgeber, 1995). Such a situation can be reversed only with new and heavy investment in educational infrastructure and to attract a new generation of students and future scholars who would register in large numbers, pursue their education to the highest level and engage in knowledge production. However, the current educational expenditures do not suggest any drastic change in this direction.
Table 8. Expenditure per student in higher education as percentage of Gross National Investment per capita.

1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 1997

Expenditure per student, in higher education (percentage GNI per capita) 1490.8 901.2 793.4 820.8 469.1 352.7 513.2 107.1

Source: Africa Database. World Bank, 2002.

In the absence of investment in traditional infrastructure, distance learning has been identified as a promising alternative or at least a viable supplement. Distance learning as a mechanism for higher education delivery is not new. Beside the University of South Africa, since the 1960s many African countries have used distance education for teacher training. Currently more than one hundred institutions across the continent provide various forms of distance education for a wide spectrum of learners. By 1985, about 25 state-funded distance education institutions were established in Africa. Currently, over 140 public and private institutions provide distance education in higher education services within sub-Saharan Africa (Saint, 1999).


Table 9. Percentage female enrolment in the various fields of higher education Field Education Social Sciences, Humanities, Services Natural Sciences and Engineering Agriculture Health and Welfare Source: UNESCO, 2005. 1981 40 32 19 26 37 Period 2000 32 42 27 20 46

In the 1980s the majority of women in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) who were enrolled in the higher education field were in education. Current statistics show that in recent times more women are enrolling in Health and Welfare Education, Social Sciences, Humanities and the services fields of education. There are some differences among countries. In Botswana, Mauritius, and Swaziland women account for more than half of the total enrolments in programmes in the field of education. In Angola, Botswana, Madagascar, and Swaziland the proportion of women in Health and Welfare exceeds 50 per cent. However, a clarification should be made about the high representation of women in education. There are various subfields of education. Most women in the field are enrolled in teacher-training institutions to obtain certification to teach in elementary and secondary schools. There is a well-established trend of nearly total feminization of pre-school and elementary/primary school teaching staff. The proportion of women among high/secondaryschool teachers has been on the rise as, since the end of colonial era, African men have been moving up into the profession of academics in higher education. Furthermore, the field of education includes areas where students, most of whom join the teaching staff of higher education, acquire knowledge as experts and analysts engaged in scientific research on the educational processes, institutions, systems, curricula, medium of instruction, technology, innovations, and so forth. With the combination of womens cluster in the lower levels of the educational field and their low representation in higher centres of learning and other research institutions, they are less likely to participate in educational research. They have limited opportunity to participate in the production of knowledge that may precisely help understand the gender imbalance. Yet research findings provide critical inputs for policy formulation. Thus, the vacuum created by their lack of contribution to research output may then contribute to the slowing up of the pace of change in the eradication of the gender gap in the entire education system. This is then a situation of an entrenched vicious cycle that will take vigorous actions to break. In addition to, or in part as a result of low female enrolment rates in Agriculture, Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction courses, there are few women among the teaching staff in these fields (UNESCO, 2000). In many countries and institutions of higher learning in Africa, women are literally absent in Mathematics and many subfields of science (e.g. Biology, Physics). Thus, women have limited opportunities to take part in and position themselves as knowledge authorities in many research breakthroughs with significant consequences for health


and improvement in life for the general population and gender-specific groups. Yet, when female students enrol in scientific fields they excel. The question is: How would it be possible to increase their numbers, harness their capacities, and create and sustain conditions for their productive participation in knowledge production as researchers? 2.3. Women and research

Friedman (1992) analyses school textbooks as tools for reinforcing and perpetuating gender bias and negative stereotypes and illustrates this point with the case of Morocco where textbooks for primary schools are illustrated with pictures of women in household functions (e.g. cooking, care giving, taking care of the home in general) in traditional dresses that are not valued as external signs of qualification to work in the formal sector. According to Jacobson (1992), most of womens time is spent in the non-wage economy, creating a social misperception that womens work has no economic value. An analysis by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) of survey data on fourteen developing and other countries revealed a larger proportion of women in poor households and even poorer female-headed households in comparison to the male-headed households (United Nations 1995:129). The 1998-1999 Ghana Living Standards Survey led to similar findings, with 23 per cent of female unpaid family workers as compared to only 11 per cent males [Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), 2000]. In Egypt, national labour force data for 1998 show that female informal workers were consistently paid less than their male counterparts across all education levels (El Mahdi and Amer, 2003: 2004). There are a few encouraging cases with narrower gaps. For instance, in Tanzania with its socialist legacy, the gender gap is less wide than in many other developing countries. In agricultural production, women in Africa have been playing a huge role at all levels, as primary agents of food security. However, they have not benefited from commensurate investment in education and technological means to increase knowledge and production of commodities. The gender component of agricultural production whereby women constitute the dominant group has been ignored by development agencies that have directly or indirectly contributed to create or exacerbate gender inequity within the continent (Boserup, 1970). According to the findings of six out of seven studies conducted on the technical efficiency of men and women engaged in farming in different countries in Africa, other things being equal, female farmers are as efficient as the males (Quisumbing, 1995). Given the predominant role that women play in agriculture, if they receive the relevant education at the higher education level, they can play a leading and productive role in both basic and applied agricultural research they can produce relevant knowledge for better understanding of the problems, search for solutions to these problems and thus unleash their innovative impulse. To address some of these specific issues, it is important to have a broader understanding of womens experience in research in general. In the understandable rush for expanding education at the beginning of nominal independence, many leaders in Africa failed to


systematically address the fundamental questions concerning the kind of education needed for what kind of development. Even when the idea of the development university was articulated, it appeared later that if the nature of the development targeted was unclear, then the education needed to achieve the stated development goals and the rights and nature of the participation of the various population segments could not be clear either. In addition to the low number of women in every level of the formal education system, especially higher education, there is a broader philosophical and political question of the nature of education itself and the type of development that those who acquire it are expected to contribute to. This section of the paper focuses on the role of research as a tool for empowerment of women and social development. In the African institutions of higher learning, particularly in the universities, since the economic crisis of the 1980s and the subsequent roles of external powers such as the World Bank in the definition of domestic education policies and priorities, research in general has taken a back seat. Cte dIvoire for instance set up the infrastructure and the human resource base for research, with a wide range of research institutions university centres and institutes and a professional corps of researchers with ranks equivalent to those of the teaching staff. Some prestigious elite Grandes Ecoles were created with basic and applied research as an important component of their respective missions (Assi-Lumumba, 1993). With the economic crisis and the SAPs conditionalities, these research units and institutions suffered from lack of investment with no budget for maintenance and replacement of equipment. Indeed, these institutions and their staff in these countries have encountered considerable challenges and generally failed to fulfil the initially stated social mission of universities and research units. Their mission includes the provision of solid education that would produce qualified human resources with relevant skills including those required for conducting top-quality research. Some of the applications of this research are expected to help formulate social policy geared toward redressing social inequality with a focus on gender and improving living conditions of the people including the marginalized. Sheer neglect of staff development, early/forced retirements, and the insufficiency of teaching staff despite continued high enrolment led to unmanageable student/teacher ratios and many pressures that tended to make research appear not of critical importance, indeed. Furthermore, under the structural adjustment programmes and the tendency of the World Bank to intervene in domestic policies of these countries, research or at least a certain type of research, was further rendered irrelevant. Most of the accepted research projects were commissioned, in general, by the donor community. That is to say that the priorities for the topics that were deemed worthwhile and being researched were appropriated by these external institutions. More important, through various mechanisms of control, even the basic academic freedom of researchers to redefine the selected topics and choose the relevant research methodologies, tended to be monitored. As Chachage (2001) in an article entitled Higher education transformation and academic exterminis states:
The tying of education to the apron strings of the market is essentially an imposition of restrictions on those forms of knowledge that aim at raising larger social and political issues. The fundamental objectives of the university scientific inquiry, pursuit of knowledge and the search for the whole truth in the interest of social transformation are increasingly being relegated to the position of what cynics of institutions of higher learning consider to be mere ivory tower (elite, luxury and esoteric) activities. (Chachage 2001:8).


One of the major problems in understanding and addressing major social issues through informed policy has been the decreasing and secondary role assigned to research. Another major problem, in fact a corollary, has been the ad hoc conception of research whereby projects are often dictated by what is fashionable or an appealing theme from the perspective of the funding agencies. Such research themes are likely to fade away, while on the ground problems such as gender inequality remain solidly entrenched in the social fabric and require commitment and long-term efforts to promote change. Furthermore, while research in industrialized countries, has taken a central stage as a domestic policy for national development, in African countries, the states, these organizations have lost their power and autonomy to external funding agencies that tend to dictate research priorities through commissioned research which aims at providing common guidelines for the domestic policies of different countries. III. Nature of past achievements and the persistent challenges

Before envisioning the future possible paths for research, it is necessary to assess the nature of past achievements and the persistent challenges. This section will focus on some of these achievements and the magnitude of the persistent stumbling blocks. 3.1. Achievements made

Achievements, especially for structural change, should not be measured by simple statistics, particularly in terms of the numbers of policy statements, discourses, conferences organised/attended, and even projects and programmes designed with varying degrees of expertise. Rather, the real indicators of substantive changes are in terms of the actual improvements in the chances for women to increase their consciousness and articulation of their needs and have more informed participation in all decisions and knowledge production. Rathgeber (2003) rightly points out that as compared to their male counterparts, young African women, even when with academic achievements and potential tend to leave school earlier to marry in compliance with social norms. The author reported the Tanzanian case where indeed, younger women in Tanzania tend to make such choices instead of pursuing their graduate studies. Mannathoko (1999) has rightly pointed to some of the few positive processes of change, for instance, a phenomenon in eastern and southern African countries where various national and international institutions, both public and private, have been increasing their research and publications output and course offerings. The Association of African Women for Research and Development (AAWORD) was among the earliest womens organizations of the south to adopt a critical approach to research and to challenge Eurocentric paradigms from a feminist and post-colonial perspective. As early as the mid-1970s, it called for the de-colonization of research and established a critical and cutting-edge gender research agenda on a wide range of themes and specific topics. In the 1990s, it also had a major research agenda on the economy and globalization (Fall,1999). In the mid1980s, following the lead of AAWORD and other organizations in developing countries, the Development Alternatives for Women in a New Era (DAWN), a research organization of women 26

of the south also challenged the destructive neo-liberal model of development and its impact on women from that area. To contribute to actualize the programme of the Pan-African Studies and Research Center in International Relations and Education for Developments (CEPARRED) Gender Unit, systematic efforts have been made to include women authors and articles on women/gender in each issue of the Journal of Comparative Education and International Relations in Africa (JEDIRAF) that is published by the CEPARRED and of which Professor Assi-Lumumba is the principal editor. The CEPARREDs philosophy and activities take gender into consideration. The establishment of a Gender Unit aims to highlight the gender dimensions in the CEPARREDs achievements and projects. Furthermore, this unit is a forum for theoretical/scholarly debates, research, publications, and practical policy/training programmes that, while open to discourses in the different regions of the world, will provide space for an African perspective. The CEPARREDs academic and practical programmes will offer a unique opportunity to develop a dynamic gender unit. The CEPARRED does not consider the gender equality issue as a legalistically and epistemologically separate phenomenon that may be treated from its raison dtre as an ad hoc technical issue. The gender equality issue is not only a philosophical determining factor in its research priority but is also a policy guideline in CEPARREDs activities. The gender equality issue is phenomenologically part of all the activities of CEPARRED: research, publication, workshops, and policy analysis. Thus, the pursuit of gender equality in all its activities shapes the CEPARREDs perspective in the social sciences and the policy arena. For CEPARRED, any institution that deals directly or indirectly with development must address the issue of gender equality as an analytical and key policy parameter for holistic social progress in the community. Its forthcoming edited book entitled Women and higher education in Africa: reconceptualizing gender-based human capabilities and upgrading human rights to knowledge (Assi-Lumumba, forthcoming 2007), is composed of sixteen chapters by scholars, most of whom are African women, articulating cutting-edge paradigms. In this book it is argued that gender equality in education must be holistically addressed in the entire education sector. Indeed, without girls access to primary/basic education, womens access to higher education via the secondary level will not be possible. There is a practical justification for focusing on basic/literacy education for women, considering the consequences of past policies. Indeed, the large proportion of out-of-school girls and women among the illiterate population segments justifies the emphasis on basic education. Gender parity in education must, however, consider all levels. Further, womens rights to learning must be articulated at all levels simultaneously, highlighting the greater needs in higher education considering the accumulated gap. Womens limited presence in higher education is an infringement on their rights and has implications in terms of their limited contribution in knowledge production at all levels, the absence of their vision in policy formulation, and their negatively skewed distribution in the labour force with consequences for income distribution. The Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) includes policy-makers, administrators, and academics. Thus FAWE has an institutional linkage between academics whose research output is expected to provide information that can support efforts to promote


change through their basic research and policy analysis. Sound policy analysis that can provide practical recommendations for change must have a clear and solid theoretical framework that also addresses epistemological questions that guide the methodological choices for data collection and the appropriate analytical instruments that can lead to valid research findings. Thus, FAWE takes the lead in more practical ways of pushing for policy change toward gender parity while working closely with the full spectrum of scholars. What they request from scholars includes research, which even in the case of basic/theoretical research, can lead to concrete recommendations that can be made to contribute to design new policies for change and enlighten the old ones. Since its 1991 Conference on Engendering African Social Science that led to the publication of its book on the same topic (Imam, Mama, and Sow, 1997), the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) has developed a series of research and publication and research-related activities including its annual gender institute, conferences, and a series of studies and publications on gender issues in academia in Africa. For instance, it has published several edited books with insightful contributing chapters by women and also some male scholars, presenting conceptual arguments and some empirical studies of current higher education processes and institutional settings in different countries across the African continent [Sall, 2000; Mkandawire, 2005, (Chumbow, 2005)]. Since the 1980s feminist and womanist scholars in the Global South and minorities in the North (particularly Black women/women of African descent in North America, especially in the US with an older tradition going back the nineteenth century) have challenged essentialist notions of womanhood and argued for the recognition by female scholars of the dominant groups (e.g. Women of Global Europe). They have articulated the interface of race and class as determining factors in access to power. The global unequal structure in essence distributes power unequally (Steady, 1981; Sen and Grown, 1986; Essed, 1990). As Tadria (1989) has argued, in spite of some progress, there has not been a substantive difference between research conducted in nineteenth and twentieth centuries in terms of the theories of gender hierarchies and the invisibility of womens work. As a result of the economic crises and the effects of the SAPs, conditions for research in African countries have deteriorated. The issue is not simply the poor facilities. Indeed, the low salaries and decreasing buying power of the teaching staff, and the teaching load given the extraordinarily high ratios of students to teacher, make the teaching profession less attractive. This situation makes it difficult for young graduates, especially the women. To redress this situation, Sawyerr (2004) proposes some practical measures toward stronger graduate study, improved research management, and an offer of a soft landing for young professionals who enter academia. As the objective situation stands, it is not conducive to attracting young female scholars and improving the research output of those who enter the profession. Thus, the following finding is indicative of the prevailing situation:


The authorship of the African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science (AJLAIS), over seven years, was subjected to analysis by gender, collaboration and institutional affiliation. A total of ninety-five research articles contributed by 118 authors were analyzed. Results indicated male dominance of single-authored articles, 83.2 per cent to 16.8 per cent. Of the 16 co-authored articles nine (56.25 per cent) were coauthored by men only, one article (6.25 per cent) was co-authored by women only, and gender mixture was found in six (37.5 per cent) of the articles. A cross-tabulation of institutional affiliation with gender revealed that no woman contributed any article from special and public libraries while there was a relative gender mixture in academic libraries and library schools. There is a need to encourage female publication output in all sectors of Librarianship and Information Science in Africa (Atinmo and Jimba, 2002, abstract, <>).

In spite of the resilience of the Apartheid legacy, it is worth noting trail-blazing policies in South Africa with the 1996 Constitution in which higher education is defined as a national government competency and the 1997 Higher Education Act provides a concrete legal framework for action (Cloete et al., 2004). Mugoni (2005) (<>) assesses and summarizes the situation of a few other African countries that have been making progress in the following terms:
The recently released UNESCO 2003/2004 Education for All Report, which has been called the most comprehensive survey of education trends worldwide measures efforts being made in all parts of the world to enrol more girls in school. In line with the Beijing Platform for Action Declaration that education is a fundamental right to which both women and men should have access, countries in the region have continued to embark on various activities to achieve gender parity in education. [The] results of the report reveal that Botswana and Namibia have achieved a perfect Gender Parity Index (GPI) score of 1. The index measures the enrolment gap between boys and girls and the score reflects an equal number of boys and girls enrolled in schools. According to the report, substantial progress towards gender parity has also been made in other countries in the region, with Swaziland and South Africa likely to achieve perfect GPI scores in the coming year. Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe (Swainson, 1996) are also cited as having made notable progress. Malawi, although yet to achieve a perfect GPI score, has made efforts to ease the way for more girls to attend school. The Government has made secondary education free for girls and scrapped primary school fees to encourage enrolment, but hidden costs, such as those for exercise books and textbooks still remain a challenge. (Mugoni, 2005).

Although exceptional, the case of Lesotho is worth mentioning as consistently about three fourths of its higher education students have been female. Despite its apparent uniqueness in terms of its skewed enrolment, it offers a solid case for reflection about the broader African situation of the actual power that education confers to women. Indeed, Clignet (1974:220) for instance argued that, in the educational process, when equality for hitherto marginalized groups is achieved new grounds emerge or existing ones become more prominent and firm as the rewards and demands to various types of educational experiences are constantly changed by the dominant groups through new strategies of selection in order to preserve their privileged position in society.


This argument is relevant to address the gender question in institutions of higher learning. It is theoretically possible and a fact, indeed, that in many parts of the world, including industrialized countries, with particular salience for people of the African descent in societies dominated by European settlers (e.g. African Americans in the UDA, Afro-Brazilians in Brazil, Blacks in Southern Africa) and their unique legacies of inequality, higher female enrolments occur without necessarily leading to their economic and vocational attainment. Inequality overcome in access is then replaced by inequality in outcome. In these contexts, it is not uncommon to have situations where higher female enrolment and graduation rates are not reflected in the staffing of the positions of high academic officers including vice-chancellors, deputy vice-chancellors and the president who continue to be predominantly or entirely composed of male leaders. The gendered structure of academic leadership tends to determine the consistency in the commitment for gender equity across the various programmes of the institutions, including the presence or absence of gender as objects and subjects of research. 3.2. Magnitude and persistence of challenges: financing higher education in general

Progress in closing the educational gender gap requires that achievements are located in the context of cumulative process. This process can be offset if new obstacles emerge or major old ones persist. This subsection addresses the main constraints that literally constitute roadblocks. Research projects carried out over the past two decades on African institutions of higher learning, especially the universities, have underscored the dilapidated infrastructures for learning and research (Coombe, 1991, Assie-Lumumba, 1993). While research in all disciplines suffers from infrastructural deficiencies, it is fair to indicate that disciplines in the areas of Science and Technology that require specialized equipment and space have taken the brunt of the decline in educational learning conditions. These are precisely the disciplines in which women are the most under-represented. Any such decline signifies a hold on the chances for women to improve their numbers. In order to increase womens participation in higher education, both as students and researchers in academics and non-academic institutions, it is necessary to improve the capacity of these institutions. Financial allocation to institutions constitutes a good indicator of the value of such institutions in the public policy. Thus, in articulating projection of research in the future, it is important to critically assess the trends in the education budgets. The data in the following tables show the trends since the 1960s.


Table 10. Expenditure per student in primary, secondary, and higher education as percentage of Gross National Investment per capita.

1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 1997

Expenditure per student, Primary (percentage of GNI per capita) 18.3 15.6 16.7 16.0 15.3 14.3 14.9 20.1

Expenditure per student, Secondary (percentage of GNI per capita) 130.8 90.5 72.5 51.7 74.3 51.0 34.6 35.1

Expenditure per student, Higher Education (percentage of GNI per capita) 1490.8 901.2 793.4 820.8 469.1 352.7 513.2 107.1

Source: Africa Database, World Bank (2002).

Expenditure per student, Primary (% of GNI per capita) Expenditure per student, Secondary (% of GNI per capita) Expenditure per student, tertiary (% of GNI per capita) 1600 1400 1200 % GNI per Capita 1000 800 600 400 200 0 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 1997

Figure 1. Trends in expenditure per student in primary, secondary, and higher education as percentage of Gross National Investment per capita.


As indicated earlier, enrolment in higher education in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is relatively very low in comparison to primary and secondary school enrolment. Higher education is expensive and cost-intensive both in terms of infrastructure and resources needed. As such, higher education requires significant government funding to be established and maintained. In the private sector, investments in higher education often require government subsidies in order to be viable. It is therefore of paramount importance to identify the correlation between finance availability and allocation with the rate of enrolment. In fact, sub-Saharan Africa has been able to increase the number of universities from a very small number before 1960 to 250 in 2000. There were over 4 million students enrolled in higher education in 1996, representing some 5 per cent of such students in the world. This represents just a negligible proportion of potential applicants (Ekhaguere, 2000). The economic capabilities of countries are obviously reflected in their respective abilities to offer educational opportunities. Thus, although political will is a determining factor, it is however correct that other things being equal, countries that have more economic means have more educational facilities that, in turn, positively influence enrolment. The UNESCO Report indicates that countries in the category of per capita annual income below US$500 are likely to register lower enrolment in raw numbers and relative terms. As the overwhelming majority of African countries are in this group, especially the Sahelian countries, the enrolment rates are the lowest. There has been also an established pattern of lower enrolment in general being a good indicator of wider gender gaps. For example, although the population of tertiary education students on the continent was just over 4 million in 1996, representing some 5 per cent of such students throughout the globe, this figure is merely a fraction of the number of persons who were qualified for enrolment in that year. As a result of the continuing inadequate funding of the education sector and the destruction of educational facilities in conflicts, the current enrolment levels are far too low to cover the demand for access. Yet, these enrolments represent a considerable massification of tertiary education on the continent, given the limited higher education facilities and the low capacity of the economy that leads to the high unemployment rates. The increases in enrolments, in raw numbers as well as a proportion of the school-age population, at the lower levels of the education systems translate into pressure on the upper levels. Given the cost of higher education in general and especially amidst the economic crises, the states have neither expanded old institutions nor created new ones. Although it is disputed as a viable solution given the widespread poverty that limits the financial ability of the majority of the population, some, among the liberalization advocates have considered privatization in the higher education sector as a possible solution. Thus, from 1991 to 1999 about sixty-five private universities were established in sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank, 2002).


Table 11. Private higher education institutions and universities in Africa. Country Benin Cameroon Ghana Nigeria Kenya Senegal Tanzania Uganda Zimbabwe Source: UNESCO, 2004. Quantity 27 17 28 13 14 48 10 15 4

There have been more students than ever who have been enrolling in higher education in Africa South of the Sahara, in general. This trend is more the result of relative expansion in the higher education infrastructure than an increased youth population. In fact, in spite of the continued youth dependency ratios, the population growth rate has been on the decline in Africa South of the Sahara.
Table 12. Population growth rate in sub-Saharan Africa. Percentage Growth Rate 0.120 0.118 0.066

1990/1995 1995/2000 2000/2003

Source: World Development Indicators, World Bank, 2005. Table 13: Gross enrolment ratio as percentage of total eligible for higher education Gross Enrolment Ratio, higher education (percentage) 0.8 1.0 1.7 2.4 2.9 3.8 4.8 3.8 2.3 2.5

1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 1996 1997 2000

Source: Africa Database, World Bank, 2002.


Table 14. Gender Parity Index (GPI). Period 1998/1999 1999/2000 2000/2001 2001/2002 2002/2003 Source: UNESCO, 2004. Parity Index 0.61 0.58 0.61 0.66 0.70

Gross Enrolment
5 Percent 4 3 2

Gender Parity

2.9 2.5

0.61 0.58 0.51 0.48 0.3 0 ______________________________________________________________________________________________ I I I I I







Figure 2. Gross enrolment in higher education and gender parity in sub-Saharan Africa.

Overall, higher education enrolment has increased from 1965 to 1995 by only 3 per cent of the total enrolment. In 1965, enrolment in higher education constituted only 1 per cent of the total enrolment in Africa, and 4 per cent in 1995. However, it remains low compared to the eligible population segment.


Primary Enrolment

Secondary Enrolment

Higher Education Enrolment

10% 1%






Figure 3. Figure 4. Trend in higher education enrolment as percentage total enrolment in the early post-colonial era three decades later.

Table 15. Sample of countries with significant gain in gross enrolment in higher education. Year Country Botswana Cte dIvoire Namibia Mauritius

1980 1.2 2.8 -

1990 3.2 3.9 3.3 3.5

2000 5.0 7.0 15.0 11.0

Some of the countries showing a slight reduction in the gross enrolment in higher education are Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The case of the DRC illustrates the setbacks that failed states and armed conflicts can cause to even countries that have immense natural endowments to generate the financial resources needed for investment in social sectors including education at all levels. In the case of Cte dIvoire, for instance, educational facilities, including institutions of higher learning (e.g. University of Bouak) have been closed down since the beginning of the large-scale armed conflict that started in September 2002. African countries show a noteworthy difference in expenditure on education according to their human development index. It is significant that 60 per cent of African countries are classified under a low human development category.


Table 16. Expenditure on education expressed as percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Overall Expenditure on Education Expenditure on Higher Education 1990 1998-2000 1990 1998-2000 As perTotal As per- Total As per- Total As perTotal centage Govt. centage Govt. centage of Govt. centage Govt of GDP spending of GDP spending GDP spending of GDP spending Africa Medium HD Low HD 4.4 5.05 3.17 15.73 17.19 14.50 3.94 5.11 3.31 17.59 19.39 16.54 18.7 19.8 18.0 0.61 0.64 0.53 19.3 19.0 19.9

Source: Various UNESCO figures.

Zimbabwe, for instance, had a significantly high expenditure on overall education (10.4 per cent of the GDP) from 1998-2000. In 1990, the expenditure on education as a percentage of the total government expenditure was significantly high in Senegal (26.9 per cent). Between 1998 and 2000 Guinea increased its expenditure on education to 25.6 per cent of total government spending. Expenditure on higher education as a percentage of total government spending increased in Africa from 18.7 per cent in 1990 to 19.3 per cent in 2000. This increase is associated with increased spending among low Human Development (HD) countries. Burundi and Sierra Leone channelled 26.9 per cent and 28.1 per cent respectively of total government spending to higher education. Saint (1999) argued that:
It appears highly unlikely that these countries (and many others) will be able to expand higher education enrolments using conventional teaching methods and the current residential campus model. During the 1980s public expenditure per student in higher education in sub-Saharan Africa dropped from US$6,300 to US$1,500 in real terms (World Bank, 1994:17). The 1990s have witnessed a further decline of an estimated 30 per cent. For many African countries, this means that public expenditures per student in higher education are nearing or falling below the level, estimated at US$1,000 per student, which is believed necessary to provide a minimally acceptable level of higher education in todays world (Partnership for Capacity Building in Africa, 1997:9). With many African nations already spending a significant portion of their GNP on education, the additional resources required to simply maintain current levels of enrolments in higher education using the traditional residential campus model will not be available. (Saint, 1999:4).

Chen (2001 <>) rightly points out that while the budget can redress gender inequality, in reality this:
potential is, however, at this moment extremely impaired as the economic theory underpinning popular macro-economic policies including budgetary policies in the world begins with assumptions which pay no attention to gender. The budget is gender blind because it pursues aggregate goals and has tended to ignore differential impact on all individuals differentiated by sex, ethnicity and location. (Chen, 2001:54).


As it is argued later, women/gender-specific units have been considered vital strategy towards gender parity. Thus, it is relevant to inquire whether there are any specific policies and mechanisms for the allocation of resources to such institutions and programmes besides the traditional and mainstream funding that focus on co-educational institutions. In order to decisively address all the dimensions of gender parity in quantitative and qualitative terms and ensure womens acquisition of the tools for research, it is necessary to concretely engender the budget. While education at the basic and secondary levels is conceptually and practically inseparable from higher education, if parity must be achieved at the higher level, there is a need to thoroughly engender the entire system in a holistic manner, instead of just focusing on the basic education and literacy programmes. From the late 1980s to the 1990s, the World Bank sponsored country studies that, given its economic instrumental conception of education, purposefully tended to emphasize economic and social benefits to provide supportive evidence of the claimed merits of its general policies by highlighting increased productivity, reduced fertility, reduced child and maternal mortality, and improving the environment (Herz et al., 1991) as social returns. Throughout Africa, in the context of the economic crisis and the SAPs, policies that worked against the efforts to achieve gender parity in education were, for instance, adopted in the 1980s, thus reversing the earlier post-independence commitment for socially progressive public policies. Furthermore, the state can even be induced to adopting harmful policies by higher agencies. This is the case when powerful and undemocratic international financial institutions using neo-liberal frameworks shape domestic policies that further deprive marginalized groups of their basic rights (Samoff and Bidemi, 2002; Brock-Utne, 2003). Examples include public policies within the structural adjustment programmes and imposed fees for access to primary health care, basic education, and across-the-board tuition for higher education. Their lack of investment in the health and education infrastructures directly reduced access by the most vulnerable groups, especially women, affecting their immediate well-being related to health care needs and limiting their chances for improvement in the future due to lack of access to education. One of the most damaging consequences of the World Banks involvement in defining education policy and financing priorities in Africa was the damaging impact on the efforts to close the gender gaps. In the post-independence periods, countries like Mali literally offered to some parents some compensation for the opportunity cost that constituted a major factor preventing them from enrolling their girls. The introduction of school fees for access to even elementary school was a major setback even in countries like Tanzania that came close to universal enrolment. If such policies were introduced for basic education and halted the increase in enrolment rate, which inevitably affects the least-represented social categories, the setback suffered by gender equality in higher education, a sub-sector that was under direct attack by the World Bank it is not surprising when a study found that:
With regard to total investment in higher education projects for both decades (1970s and 1980s), the per cent invested was highly skewed in favour of East Asia. ...Whereas both East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa had large numbers of higher education projects between 1982-1992 only 5 per cent of total investment in higher education during that period was in sub-Saharan Africa while East Asia received 65 per cent. (Subbarao et al. 1994:28).

Furthermore, in comparison to the 1970s, gender in higher education received decreasing 37

attention starting with the SAPs. For instance, the proportion of the World Banks education projects acknowledging gender was 28 per cent for the period of 1972-1981, while the proportion of total investment in education projects acknowledging gender was 16 per cent in the same period. In contrast, from the 1980s to the early 1990s, there was a clear regional shift in favour of South Asia, where the number of projects acknowledging gender increased from 12 per cent to 38 per cent, and the investment in the projects acknowledging gender importance also increased, from 8 per cent to 65 per cent. On the whole, the total investment in higher education projects acknowledging gender in the sub-Saharan African region during the 1980s decreased to a mere 6 per cent from 16 per cent in the 1970s. (Subbarao et al., 1994:32). The profound structural gap between male and female enrolment in higher education in Africa requires vigorous and consistent policy to promote and sustain positive change in the sense of gender parity. The nature of the policy design for these projects and the actual investment reflects the globalization context. 3.3. Special challenge of globalization

Globalization has been celebrated by its neoclassical proponents who project it as an unprecedented opportunity for a worldwide equality of access emulating increasing and beneficial competition, with expanded industrial production, in trade with the potential for more available jobs for all, including women. It is also assumed that export would significantly increase and the expansion would positively affect the possibilities for women. The logic of the argument is as if this would in fact be a positive turning point in ending the marginalized situation of women in the economy, especially the formal sector. However, in the case of African countries in general, exports have not increased. In fact as shown by Senapaty (2000:8) for some other countries, including most of sub-Saharan Africa, trade liberalization has not been associated with an expansion of female-intensive export industries. Where feminization has occurred, it may have reversed with the introduction of new technologies and new organizations of production. Many dimensions of these issues of the negative impacts of globalization on African women have been articulated (Fall, 1999). Krugman and Obstfeld (2000) argue that if correctly articulated, logically conventional liberal economic trade theory would lead to the conclusion that trade will have negative implications for the compensation paid for scarce factors of production and wages for female workers in both industrialized and developing countries. Relocation of industries from industrialized to developing countries tends to affect more immediately women in industrialized countries, as by and large, they tend to have lower skills than their male counterparts. However, the attractive conditions for relocation do not lead to major gains for women in the developing countries where the industrial production units relocate. On the contrary, with less formal education as compared to men from the same national contexts, even those women who are fortunate enough to enter wage-earning jobs suffer from initial gaps that are not likely to close. They usually do not have the rights to organize, nor do they have chances for starting/pursuing their education while they are working. In fact, there is no logic in the expectation that while in globalization the motive for relocation of industries in various spaces around the world is to make profit, there could be systematically positive impacts on wages in the initial countries and the countries of relocation. 38

Indeed, low wages and lack of leverage of the workers, especially women, are the profitmaking incentives that attract business. It is significant to point out that the relationships between trade and the other sub-sectors of the market economy, as well as those between the latter and the female-clustered unpaid household economy are complex (Fontana and Wood, 2000). There is a self-fulfilling prophecy phenomenon as, professionally unfulfilling experiences are likely to discourage women and deter them from being motivated to pursue life-long professional careers. This in turn will contribute to the perpetuation and even the widening of the gender gap. Steady (2002), among others, has argued that a direct outcome of corporate globalization has been the increase marginalization of African countries generally with specifically even more destructive consequences along gender lines. Indeed, the impact of pre-existing structural inequality that derives from the colonial system and the capitalist economy have been further exacerbated by increasing global and national imbalances in access to power and resources, especially for African women. In Politics of exclusion in higher education: the inadequacy of gender issues in the globalization debates Moja (2007) argues that the phenomenon of globalization is characterized by the absence of gender issues in the discourse on its implication for education and the policies and practices of the labour market. She stresses the importance of womens involvement in the discourse and in all policies of globalization. IV. Institutionalization of gender-focused research and empowerment of women through research 4.1. A general reflection on women and research in Africa

In another work (Assi-Lumumba, 2002) intellectuals were defined as people who are associated, through their educational experience, with higher education learning (LumumbaKasongo, 2000). They constitute several categories, which for the purpose of this study can be grouped into three major sets. One category consists of what has been labelled classical intellectuals. They are composed of professional thinkers who have historically devoted their time to contemplation (for example, monks from the medieval to the contemporary period). Their intellectual activity is often disconnected from any particular social context or activity. Rather, it involves reflecting esoterically on human and social experience and the world in abstraction. Their activity is therefore often contrasted diametrically with practical work, manual labour, etc. This situation defines the context in which many contemporary European higher learning institutions were created. Because of the deliberate and de facto disconnection of much intellectual activity from society, intellectual production was linked to the notion of The Ivory Tower, with intellectuals and thinkers (by the Middle Ages, located mainly in churches) who did not directly connect or perceive the importance of connecting their intellectual work to the socio-economic needs of the larger social environment. In France, for example, the church had a firm control over higher learning and academic endeavours. It was only towards the fifteenth century, and specifically by the Renaissance and the Reformation, that the state, through a


secularization scheme, intensified its struggle to unsettle the near-monopoly of the churchs authority over the school system. In this conflict between church and state, the church adopted a new strategy, which consisted of empowering new religious congregations such as the Jesuits and the Oratorians to tighten their grip over the system of academic production. This provided the basis for the church to define the educational and social goals of the education system and its corresponding curriculum, criteria of evaluation and selection (Assi, 1982). In accordance with some church dogmas, women were excluded from the intellectual forum, production of knowledge, and policy-making. While many European institutions have been greatly transformed to address some of the issues of historical and structural gender imbalance, African universities, even those that were created after Independence, still share traditional European socio-historical features because they were modelled after the old Western traditions. The second category of intellectuals has been called organic intellectuals. They constitute the self-appointed vanguards, those who consider themselves as having a social mission in terms of their commitment to the cause of the entire society. They have distinct statuses and roles in relationship to the rest of the population. Their educational achievement is one basis for their distinctiveness. In many cases, they can also be differentiated on the basis of ascriptive factors, such as social origins that facilitate their access to, and success in the selective and elitist systems of education. Despite these objective social differences, they view themselves as having a social mission. They consider it an important duty to use their privileged position to promote social change for the entire society. The third category of intellectuals is composed of career-oriented intellectuals. The guiding ethos of these intellectuals is individualism and, sometimes, selfish pursuit of a career geared to their personal gains. They seldom analyse the global, social, and community/local factors that play a significant role in their academic promotion. In terms of a functionalist tradition, their individual attributes and hard work are considered to be the sole explanatory factors of their privileged position. Although these intellectuals think and act in individualistic ways, they may fulfil family obligations in Africa, where, despite the extensive Westernisation of society, African family values still strongly govern social relations. However, these intellectuals do not feel that they are indebted to the masses, and their actions are not guided by any commitment to broader society. The last category of intellectuals is not necessarily involved in any consistent participation in intellectual production. They use their educational achievement to participate in activities that guarantee their economic survival and the maintenance of a certain standard of living above that of the masses. They may not even recognize the importance of intellectual production in the first place. Either by necessity or by the absence of consciousness of the role that intellectual production plays in society, they do not tend to take an active part in intellectual production and direction, and consider intellectual activities, decision-making, policy design, etc. as purely technical exercises. Given the above consideration of intellectuals, it is important in the context of African societies to ask what the process of selection is along gender lines for those who qualify as


members of the social categories that produce intellectual knowledge. This qualification is determined by the level of education in terms of the period of schooling, and more specifically, by access to and completion of higher education. It is also measured by the nature of diplomas earned, the types of institutions attended, the fields of study, occupations, and so forth. Consideration of these factors must lead us to ask: What is the representation of women in learning at the higher education level? Whose and what knowledge is learned and for whose benefit? If the theory on which a research project is based is to offer a framework of African reality and not another inappropriate/unjust conception of assumed neutral/universal world, it is essential to formulate research projects as a critical reflection on this African reality. For research should be an undertaking characterized by active thinking. Given the socio-historical and contemporary role of the African woman, her actual and potential role and her rights as a citizen, the habits of research that have remained biased for so long have to change. Nearly everywhere in the world, especially after the various international and regional conferences on the equality and integration of women, the question of gender is raised and will continue to grow in importance. Apart from this international dynamic, it is imperative that research in Africa be conceptualized and conducted on an ethical basis. The epistemological choices must take into account African realities, reflecting the gender inequalities and the actual roles that, regional or ethnic specificities notwithstanding, both men and women have played at different historical moments. In this context, gender analysis cannot afford to ignore either history or contemporary African culture. African realities require that those engaged in basic and applied research take into account the interaction between men and women in the social dynamic in order to refine the concept of gender. Given the specific social context of Africa, the gender approach in research must demonstrate vigilance against all forms of sexism and at the same time against epistemological imperialism. 4.2. Recent developments of gender units and research

Bunyi (2003:13) citing Musisi gives the example of Makerere University that has played a leading role in establishing a fully-fledged Womens Studies Department, established in 1991. The academic status of this unit has facilitated the process of the gender mainstreaming work across the university using various programmes and activities including workshops. Bunyi (2003:13) citing Bennett indicated that three-fourths 4 (18 out of 24) of African universities had responded to an ongoing study on this topic, reported to have established gender units, with diverse programmes and activities including teaching, research and activism functions. However, Bennett further argues that most institutions of higher education in Africa lack any form of gender equity policies and interventions. Yet, although the information is limited in part due to the lack of gender-disaggregated data, there is an indication that the interventions yield encouraging results albeit timidly (Bunyi, 2003:13).

4 Among which University of Ghana, University of Ibadan University (IU) in Nigeria, Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, University of Dar-es-Salaam and the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in South Africa.


There are examples of efforts in different units at various institutions on the African continent in spite of remaining issues in the institutional structures. Thus, it is worth noting the case of the University of Dar-es-Salaam (UDSM) where gender perspectives have been applied to the courses throughout the University, for instance in the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, Law and Education, and the college of Lands and Architectural Studies. Furthermore, the Institute of Development Studies and Sociology (IDSS) have adopted gender studies courses. As a result, the draft-working document by the UNESCO Secretariat in October 1998 indicates that as secondary education enrolments increased in the previous ten years, the access of women to higher education has improved significantly (UNESCO, 1998). However, it also noted that efforts must be redoubled to increase participation in fields such as Science and Technology, include the presence of a critical mass of women in the decision-making process, and remove the cultural barriers that still hinder the full development of women as students, professionals and citizens, enjoying their full rights. It has been found that, in the case of four private universities that were studied in Kenya in 2000, 52.5 per cent of the students were female (Bunyi, 2004 citing Wesonga et al.,). The explanatory factors of these distributions include the emphasis on Arts and Social Sciences that have generally heavy concentration of female students and the aspiration of parents to have safe learning institutional settings for their daughters (Bunyi, 2004) citing Wesonga et al. In spite of the appearance of encouraging signs for increased chances for female students, a deeper analysis of this trend reveals that it is in fact contributing to reproduce gender inequality as female students are being clustered in Womens Fields. The feminization of fields of study is generally associated with the decreasing social value, prestige and economic return of such fields. Thus, if these gender distributions become established patterns, private universities may then become negative institutional gender filtering mechanisms. There are several formats for initiating gender projects and for introducing gender/womens studies programmes in various institutions. As the tables in Appendix 1 indicate, most of the Gender and Womens Studies, Teaching and Research Programmes have been set up in classical universities. They may constitute the equivalent of the Ministries of Womens Conditions that were created in the 1980s, especially following the Nairobi International Conference on Women (Action for Equality, Development and Peace), Nairobi, Kenya, in July 1985. They constituted add-on units that were less funded than the other ministerial cabinet units. The major difference, however, lies in the creation of these womens/gender studies programmes by women, most of whom are academics. These programmes are recent, and most of them have been created since the Beijing International Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace, Beijing, China, September 1995. While these units do not constitute an indicator of a process of engendering all the existing institutions and their cultures, they represent a forward movement. Their existence does not, however, suggest that women affiliated with these units are more engaged in research in general and more specifically genderfocused research in classical academic disciplines, ranging from the Humanities, Social Sciences, Hard Sciences, to the more recently introduced Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). There are two versions. In the first case as shown in Appendix 1, there are no units. Courses and programmes are offered in traditional fields. Appendix 2 shows the case of specific


units, the most advanced being the departments such as at the University of Buea (UB). The third type of institution is composed of all-women universities. To date, the most prominent, listed in Appendix 3: the Ahfad University for Women (AUW) in Sudan and the St Lucie Kiriri Womens University of Science and Technology (KWUST) in Nairobi (Kenya), were created more recently. It would be necessary to undertake some studies to determine the comparative advantage in actual and potential capacity of these institutions to promote womens preparation and participation in research. It is worth pointing out the differences in the African sub-region and the colonial differences. Southern African and Eastern African countries are the most vigorously engaged in the construction of these gender/womens studies programmes. Because of the socio-historical and political context of the Apartheid-driven political economy, there has been a higher female attendance including the higher education level. Although the quantitative representation has not been systematically translated into qualitative parity, there are definitely more visible signs of policy design and implementation towards gender parity. Countries of British colonial legacy are the most advanced. In part because of their long period of struggle for freedom even after nominal independence, Lusophone countries in comparison to Francophone countries, have been more engaged in the process of achieving gender parity in institutions of higher learning. In Conceptions of Gender in Colonial and PostColonial Discourses: the Case of Mozambique, Arnfred (2004) critically examines political documents (e.g. speeches, official reports) during the periods of transition: in 1975 from Portuguese colonial rule to independence, the Frelimo socialist regime, after the war of liberation, and finally the era of donor-dominated development. Focusing on the thinking, implicit assumptions, and the actual policies on gender issues in the respective periods, the author concludes that civil society lobby groups for womens rights, gender equality, and the promotion of womens perspectives have appeared in the last 50 years of turbulent Mozambican history. Yet, these groups face an uphill battle of fighting to keep womens issues on the political agenda. While individual female scholars have been playing leading roles in Francophone countries, specifically those that were colonized by France, the French institutional legacy of gender inequality has been the most difficult to tackle. These countries still have difficulty dealing with basic matters as, for instance, the term Human Rights is translated as 'Droits de lHomme (Mans Rights). As articulated in another work, the concept of gender presents some difficulty:
In the Anglophone context in general, the most common confusion exists only at the level of the signified (meaning). To clear up this confusion, it is worth specifying at the outset that one can define a concept at the same time by what it is and by what it is not. As far as the signifier is concerned in the analysis of gender, it is important to emphasize that when one is dealing with this topic in French or in a Francophone context, the vocabulary itself can contribute to making the concept even more difficult to grasp and to apply to concrete analytical situations. In fact, the simple translation of the Anglosaxon term gender by genre is neither an automatic nor exact rendering of the English term. Many expressions such as rapports de sexe or rapports sociaux de sexe are sometimes used, but their meanings are


neither very clear nor very satisfying. The use of the term genre is more accepted, although still insufficiently widespread. The slowness in the acceptance of the term can be explained in part by the fact that in French genre refers more to grammatical analysis than to social structure and dynamics. (Assi-Lumumba, 2000b:9).

While le genre seems to be more widely accepted in the Francophone contexts, the difficulty of the concept is an indicator of certain patterns of structural obstacles that are present across society including in higher education where teaching, learning, and research take place. Several studies point out the magnitude of the problem and the task to be undertaken to promote substantive and long-lasting change. Mbow (2000) examines the gender-related problem in the application of academic freedom especially in the African Francophone context. The author analyses the issue of gender in education, and women teachers in higher education by focusing on the status of women in the University of Dakar and their role on campus in Academic Freedom and the Gender Issue: A Report from Senegal. Mbow also describes Senegalese women students at the dawn of the third millennium and concludes that the notion of academic freedom can only be properly defined by truly understanding what is at stake while taking into account the real concerns and constraints affecting women in the university. The theme of academic freedom is further examined in Bitches at the Academy: Gender and Academic Freedom in Africa by Tamale and Onyango (2000) who consider the nature and character of formal structures of higher education in which both the myths and realities of gender parity and academic freedom in the African context are initially played out. Their study examines both the historical and contemporary dimensions of gender struggles and academic freedom and concludes that there is a lack of a comprehensive, gender-sensitive, all-embracing normative framework in which the concerns of gender and academic freedom are clearly spelt out. Approaching the question from a dynamic perspective both in terms of education as a process as well as the policies for improvement that are adopted, Ahikire (2004) examines gender studies initiatives and the extent to which they have transformed the African academy in Locating Gender Studies in the Pan-African Ideal: A Reflection on Progress and Possibilities in Uganda. Using the case of Uganda, she maps out the progress and possibilities in terms of how far the field has legitimated the study of gender, especially in the social sciences. She also considers the nature of the intellectual space, both in terms of the academic institutions and the intellectuals within them; and the extent to which they are receptive to gender as an organizing principle in social analysis. She concludes that a strategic presence of the gender perspective is yet to be achieved and is still in the margins of scholarship in Africa. Pursuing the same question of academic freedom with considerable scepticism about the regard to the likelihood of positive change, Fashina (2000) focuses on the issues of female academics and the subject of research and work in the university. The analysis also addresses motherhood and unjust laws in Nigeria. She concludes that although academics in Nigeria are concerned about academic freedom, the debates, discussions, policies, and attitudes that can ensure academic freedom for all academics are generally gender blind and, at times, openly discriminatory.


Ouendji (2000) explores the crisis that faced Cameroonian universities in 1996 and examines the academic discrimination or exclusion of women in Cameroon universities. She concludes that though gender balance of students in the universities is improving, the gender gap in the scientific course remains a problem. In the case of Cameroon, it is noteworthy that the University of Buea (on the Anglophone side), which has been headed by a woman ViceChancellor for many years, has a most advanced gender-friendly environment with a Womens Studies Department. As there are so few cases of institutions of higher learning that can be cited as on the verge of achieving structural gender parity, it is important to search for broad-based solutions for the future. 4.3. A forward-looking approach to research as a systemic corrective and empowering mechanism

Research can be conceptualized and practically organized as an instrument that can significantly contribute to redress gender imbalance. It can help identify and address the hindering factors of equal educational opportunity at all levels of any education system. It can empower women if they have the opportunity to participate in the production of relevant knowledge and identification of appropriate and effective solutions. It can have a decisive impact from the source to the final level of the problem of gender imbalance. While in the long term a comprehensive solution must target all institutions, their programmes, structures and physical organization as well as the institutional cultures and, in the short term, gender and womens studies units can play a leading role. Thus, in Gender Studies for Africas Transformation, Mama (2005), for instance, articulates gender and womens studies in African institutions as a response to particular challenges facing African women intellectuals and activists. In Locating Gender and Womens Studies in Nigeria: What Trajectories for The Future? Pereira (2004) analyses the intellectual content in gender and womens studies in terms of their present political agenda and dynamics and their future potential and processes. The author articulates the determining relationship between theoretical perspectives and methodological choices and the content of scholarship and its academic, political and practical agenda. In terms of the institutionalization of gender studies, there are some promising developments as illustrated by the recent case of the University of Venda (UV), for instance, with a far-reaching programme in the making of its South African Gender Studies Programmes. This course of study will offer a fully-fledged academic programme leading to the award of university degrees and diplomas. All the courses will be at post-graduate level targeting mainly the professionals in the field in need of gender perspective in-put to their work. The Centre will encourage all schools to incorporate gender perspectives in the subjects offered at undergraduate level. The following degrees and diplomas shall be awarded: Diploma in Gender Studies, B.A./B.Sc. Honours in Gender Studies, M.A./M.Sc. Gender Studies, Ph.D. ( One of the major issues is implementation, continuity and sustainability.


Gouws (2004) rightly warns against the danger of complacency in Establishing Gender Studies Programmes in South Africa: The Role of Gender Activism. Indeed, given the generally dire situation, it may not be surprising to perceive a few realizations in isolated cases as more important than they actually are. The author examines both the role of gender activism in the establishment of Gender and Womens Studies (GWS) in South Africa and the low institutionalization of gender has changed the nature of activism in the absence of a strong womens movement post-1994. As a result of this study, Gouws concludes that the fragmentation of the Womens National Coalition (WNC) since 1994 and the resulting loss of visible gender activism have de-linked GWS from its initially promising activist base. Bloch et al., (1998) argue that any legitimate analysis of womens education in developing countries, particularly in Africa, must factor state as well as the agencies of bilateral and multilateral cooperation as important determinants of national development agenda setting and policy implementation aimed at promoting gender equity. Furthermore, globalization and liberalization with their market-driven corollaries and impact on the curriculum, the pedagogy, the management of education and the focus on donor-driven research (Bennett, 2002) do not yield any positive outcome toward closing the gender gap. Manuh (2002) recalls the major blows to higher education when external sources intervening in African domestic policies and the lack of local might and vision led to misguided policies of downgrading allocation of resources to higher education in favour of basic education. This short-sighted vision did not have any positive impact on the development of a vigorous programme that could enhance the position of gender in higher education planning as an investment. Many institutions such as the University of Makerere in Uganda and the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania adopted affirmative action that have yielded encouraging results of about 30 per cent female enrolment at the turn of the century. However, as enrolment has not reached parity yet, Namuddu (1995) was right to call for the adoption of more systematic and consistently vigorous policies that would drastically attack the roots of the persistent gender gaps in African higher education. This can be done through establishing quota systems of admissions, targeting women for teaching, research, and top administrative positions, and ensuring their fair promotion. Other strategies include adopting and implementing of sexual harassment policies, encouraging students to graduate and continue their professional development (Namuddu, 1995:56). Mama (1996) articulates some of the actual or promising strategies that have been adopted toward the elimination of gender inequity by establishing gender-focused academic units and programmes on teaching and research for relevant learning and knowledge production. She argues for structural, fundamental, simultaneously transformative processes that address the question of gender and epistemology in traditional disciplines. Stromquist (1997) has articulated the dynamic relationship between the empowerment of women and the structural gender-based power relations in society at large. She calls for a need to address them structurally including the values that the education system itself contributes to


reproduce and propagate. Walters and Manicom (1996) also argue that, as there is no homogenous category of woman, all the socially significant factors to interact with gender to mitigate or exacerbate the effect of gender must be taken into consideration. Thus, the intersection of gender, race, class, and culture must be taken seriously in designing various intervention programmes. In the same way the social complexity must be taken into account for a thorough understanding of the gender factor, it is crucial to design various and multi-dimensional concerted intervention programmes. These efforts will be done by the state, private institutions, local entities and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that target culture, and educational issues at different levels of the systems from basic to higher education, health issues, human rights, use of technology, and so forth. As articulated by Martineau (1997) in the case of South Africa, there are strong sociocultural, economic, political, and ideological factors that determine the likelihood of womens successful educational attainment especially in disciplines that are treated as being in the male sphere. Such powerful hindering factors can be overcome only with strong policies that support women throughout their educational and professional careers. Effective strategies require coalitions, such as the University of Natal in South Africa where the joint efforts of women academics and the community, especially in NGOs, have led to the courses on gender (Bennett, 2002). Even in Francophone countries that generally lag behind in adopting affirmative actions, some conditions can spark the positive energy of change. For instance, the presence and actions of even isolated female leaders can start to make an impact. From one institution, this spark can ignite a network of action across institutional borders. Thus, to increase the raw number and proportion of women in institutions of higher learning in Niger a promising strategy consists in setting up inter-university Training and Research Units whereby teachers and researchers of similar or related disciplines constitute collaborative research teams that work on common research projects. This is an effective way of imparting solid skills for research and teaching that can constitute an invaluable investment in the professional development of the students (Diallo, 2003). This is particularly an asset in the Francophone context that has been historically characterized by abstract learning that makes it difficult for students to transition to the workplace with knowledge and skills prized by employers. Increasing the number of knowledgeable and competent workers whose presence on the teaching and research staff is an effective way to provide role models for female students and start normalizing the participation of women in institutions of higher learning. This could be an answer the very relevant question by Sawyerr (2004): So what is the way forward when universal patriarchal power appears so hard to denaturalize? There is a legitimate call for critical examination of African culture and its hindering factors. However, instead of picking the negative factors only, it is equally important to critically examine the factors in African culture that are empowering for women. Research can play a critical role in sorting out what can hinder or enable womens capacity and potential. Thus, there is a need to go beyond literacy as the main educational focus for achieving gender parity.


In her article Exploration of a Gap: Strategizing Gender Equity in African Universities Bennett (2002:1) states that in the fourteen years since Dangarembga published Nervous Conditions, a novel piercingly astute about the implications of education for black girls skewered within colonial architectures, the realities of gender for access to primary, secondary and higher education in African contexts have struggled for recognition within critical debates on democracy and development. She cites some of what she referred to as the strong voices that have forcefully articulated the issues (Assi-Lumumba, 1993; Ramphele, 1995; Gaidzanwa, 1997; Mbilinyi and Mbughuni, 1991), in the past decade, and sought to unpack the knots of gender, race, ethnicity, nation-building, and post-colonial economic urgencies which so complicate access to education on the continent. (Bennett, 2002:1) Bunyi (2003:9) reports that research from different institutions in different African countries has revealed that sexual harassment ranging from constant derogatory verbal remarks to rape and other types of gender-based violence is perpetrated on female students by male academics, and non-academics, staff and students. The South African context is cited as the one where progress is being made. As Bunyi (2003:12-13) rightly pointed out: Interventions dealing with sexual harassment face complex problems. For one, the largely male authorities in higher education institutions are not enthusiastic about such initiatives. Writing on experiences in the University of Botswana, Tlou and Letsie (1997) state that, for two years, a proposed anti-sexual harassment policy had not gone beyond the faculty discussion level owing to delays. In the case of the University of Natal, Bunyi (2003:13) citing Mlama indicates that after the sexual harassment policy was implemented in 1994 the following results were observed about six years later: eighteen cases of sexual harassment had been handled and more awareness created on the human rights of students. She concludes that the interventions put in place, and the commitment and persistence on the part of those working on combating the sexual harassment in different campuses, are helping curb the problem although there is persistent pressure to allow the impunity to continue. (Bunyi, 2003:13). Throughout the world girls from low socio-economic status families suffer from three sources of powerlessness and vulnerability: as youngsters, as females, and as the economically needy. In sub-Saharan Africa adult males with economic means prey on girls in this social category. Ironically, impoverished school girls who are desperate to find financial resources to acquire an education as an investment in the future become victims of such predators, who may include teachers who are, ironically, entrusted with the education of the youth. Younger males, including schoolboys, are also often among those who inflict sexual harassment on girls. As documented in sub-Saharan Africa, girls from poor families are often enticed into sexual relations by older men or sugar daddies for gifts and access to economic resources such as school fees, (Hiese, Moore and Toubia, 1995; Dixon-Mueller, 1993; Ulin, 1992). A survey of adolescent women in East Africa who had abortions revealed that most of their partners were older; 80 per cent reported that their partners were adults (Hiese, Moore and Toubia, 1995). (Advocate for Youth, 2006). The classroom is a microcosm of society and reflects power relations of different foci. The teacher is officially entitled to exercise power and authority over the students. This power is often interpreted as absolute and expressed arbitrarily and violently through intimidation,


physical punishment and verbal abuse, with gendered implication that lead to more marginalization of female students. It is safe to state that running away from such an environment is part of the explanatory factors of student absenteeism and dropping out which in the case of girls add to factors such as early marriage and pregnancy. All these issues reveal the need to design comprehensive gender parity policies in the education sector, thus linking the enrolment of girls, the curricula, and institutional culture to womens fruitful participation in the production of knowledge in all fields of study as well as in teaching and research in top research universities. Research capacities of African institutions must make room for African women so that those who acquire research skills can apply their competence to new research themes. This way they can contribute to producing knowledge and to the effort to meet new challenges such as finding a cure for HIV/AIDS and navigating with confidence in the new frontier of knowledge on earth and in the universe. The creation of gender/womens studies units is definitely an excellent indicator of the importance accorded to the problem and the readiness to adopt policies for fundamental changes. However, it is important not to consider the creation of these units as an end in itself or a sufficient condition to foster structural change. Informed and permanent epistemological choices must be at the foundation. In An Investigative Framework for Gender Research in Africa In The New Millennium, Steady (2004) examines the impact of external concepts, methodologies and paradigms in African gender studies by presenting evidence that their supporting academic structures validate the exploitation of the continent. The author proposes African-centred approaches for gender research in Africa based on an understanding of African socio-cultural realities, feminist traditions and philosophies. Oyewumi (2004) in Conceptualizing Gender: Eurocentric Foundations of Feminist Concepts and the Challenge of African Epistemologies considers how African research can be more informed by local concerns and interpretations and how African experiences can be incorporated in the general theory building in gender research. She concludes that interpreting African realities based on Western feminist concepts often produces distortions and obfuscations in language and a total lack of comprehension since the social categories and institutions are incommensurable. In Yorubas Dont Do Gender A Critical Review of Oyeronke Oyewumis The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses, Yusuf (2004) asserts that there has been very little interrogation of the concept of gender analysis in Africa in terms of its relevance and applicability to the African situation. The author criticizes the argument against the concept of gender in Africa as presented by Oyewumi in her book. This critique is an indication of some of the productive debates that have only just begun. Indeed, the concerns expressed about agency and questions of epistemology can precisely be effectively addressed only when a critical mass of African women secures the qualifications for, and are actively involved in, research.


Conclusions Research is crucial in any serious and comprehensive development agenda of contemporary nation-states within the global context. Any research activities entail processes of asking critical questions, and designing inquiry methods and tools for gathering relevant and necessary information to critically analyse and understand the phenomena under study. In spite of the assumed and commonly agreed scientific impartiality in scientific inquiry and the applications of the rules of methods, the respective life journeys, experiential trajectories, and perspectives of the researchers inform their choices of what they consider the most appropriate data, and the methods for data collection and analysis. The contexts are relevant dimensions of any research projects. In developing countries, especially in Africa, most of the research takes place in universities. Thus, they constitute sites of concentration knowledge as it is dispensed, acquired, and produced. Intellectual articulation through critical thinking and research findings constitute the framework and practical reference for policy design. Thus, womens productive visibility is crucial in such a space of concentration of power that defines reference and direction of policy and social reproduction. Their limited participation can constitute a major hindrance to any effort of achieving substantive and structural gender parity. Issues raised, in studies such as in Kenya where, according to Kanake (1997) women in the academic profession tend to leave academia, considered less attractive, for NGOs that are more financially rewarding, have several implications. This is the result of unwelcoming institutional settings of higher education institutions, their discriminatory policies and especially practices. Unlike industrialized countries where significant research takes place in various types of institutions, in Africa the university constitutes the space where most of the research is conducted. Therefore, the limited presence of women in the universities leads to the absence of their perspectives and lost opportunities for contributing significantly to shape the broader intellectual framework. Hence, they lack influence in policy design. Yet it is precisely the policies that are expected to break the cycle of gender imbalance and to promote sustainable development. For instance, as most African countries have been devastated by conflicts of various magnitudes, why is that such topics have not been the focus and at the forefront of cutting edge research and knowledge production? As Farr (2003) rightly points out:
The gender values of a society are one of its most pervasive structures, colouring the ways in which all other aspects of life are organized. No feature of war or peace is gender neutral. Researchers must interrogate all social actors, however peripheral they may appear, to promote effective, inclusive social change and long-term opportunities for development. (Farr, 2003:3).

Actualizing gender equality in all aspects and activities of higher education is an active engagement in promoting womens social rights to equal educational opportunity. It is also an investment in long-term and sustainable development. A broader vision for human development requires a commitment for human security research and policy-making that must inevitably include women as critical social agents.


It has been widely accepted that women are less aggressive than men and more willing to work towards peace. Byrne (1996) has argued that those who do not conform to these stereotypes constitute a conundrum and a challenge in the demobilization. In fact, in addition to other sociological factors that explain womens invisibility, their actual real work in combat has been questioned and led to literal disappearance after demobilization (Turshen and Twagiramariya, 1998). As Africa has been plagued by conflict and by war how can these positive stereotypes be put to use by not giving the opportunity to women to develop? They need to sharpen their research and policy skills to lead the production of cutting-edge knowledge on conflict resolution and prevention, peace making, permanent peace building, and the promotion of values of peace for sustainable development and permanent motion for social progress. Kwesiga (2002), among others, argues that to eradicate poverty it is necessary for Africa to promote educational opportunity for women. She contends that while there is more research to be undertaken and more policies to be analysed to have a broad understanding, there is enough knowledge already available to guide policies (Kwesiga, 2002). As she adds, international institutions such as the United Nations and Member States have officially stated their unfailing commitment to working toward the elimination of gender gaps. Such a commitment, however, has limited actual consequences in the light of extremely limited resources. While Kwesigas argument of scarcity of resources is valid, however, by re-allocating resources hitherto devoted to military build-ups and sustaining of armed conflicts, and thus preventing further waste of local assets physical and human resources African countries can achieve major results in promoting educational development and expansion and equal opportunity. Because of the persistently low numbers of the female population in the education systems, one of the most vigorous ways to quantitatively and qualitatively boost their representation is to expand the institutional/infrastructural capacity for the provision of increased education for both female students and professionals. This expansion cannot be addressed in purely quantitative terms. Indeed, it is not enough to increase the number of female students and professionals; it is important to create gender-sensitive environments that are equally needed across the educational institutions and society. In the search for permanent solutions to the structural gender inequality as illustrated by the unequal representation of women in the institutions of higher learning, it is necessary to introduce permanent and dynamic tools for understanding and addressing the moving contours and depth of the gender gap. This understanding requires new theoretical articulation and reconceptualization of policy frameworks. Policy in turn requires thorough, systematic, and permanent space for reflection and the production of knowledge. It requires dynamic research agendas and activities as integral parts of the educational and social processes. Research indeed must be conceived as a key activity and a permanent corrective tool.


Tables Created by Compiling Information from various Sources Including the African Gender Institute (<>) Appendix 1: Institutions with courses, but no units, on gender/women
Table 17. Ahmadu Bello University (No dedicated unit, department or programme) Courses located in Department: Sociology, Mass Communications and Geography Undergraduate and postgraduate courses taught on gender/women Studies.

Table 18. University of Ibadan (No dedicated unit or programme) Gender Courses offered within Departments of English, Psychology, Modern European Studies, Geography and Law Gender Courses Literature in Gender Psychology Internal Migration Comparative Literature Women in the Environment Medical Geography

Table 19. University of Cape Coast, Ghana (No dedicated unit) Courses within the Centre for Development Studies, Department of Sociology and English Department Gender Courses Gender and Sexuality (Department of Sociology) Women and Development (Department of Sociology, Centre for Development Studies) Women and Development in African Literature (English Department)

Table 20. University of Natal (No dedicated gender unit) Health, Sexuality and AIDS in Education Module offered within the M.Ed. Gender Education and M.Ed. Social Justice Education. Gender Education from Specialist Tracks Programmes 2000 Violence, Gender and Schooling Masculinity and Schooling Gender and Curriculum Health, Sexuality and AIDS Education Violence, Gender and HIV/AIDS in KwaZulu-Natal Schools Gender and Schooling

Research Activities


Table 21. Moi University (No dedicated unit of programme) Course offered within School of Environment Studies, Department of History, Department of Religion, Department of Wildlife Management, Department of Forestry, Department of Fisheries, Department of Literature, Department of Kiswahili, Department of Health Sciences Gender Courses Taught Gender, Environment and Development Women in History Women and Religion Gender Dimensions in Natural Resources Management Women Writers Place of Women in Kiswahili

Table 22. University of Nigeria (No gender unit)

Courses available on Women in Society, Gender Roles and Human Sexuality, Women and Development and Women in African Culture Taught within the Sociology/ Anthropology Department University of Yaound I Educational Planning Courses offered within Education Department Gender is included when training social disparity in educational participation

University of Fort Hare, South Africa (No dedicated unit) Courses offered within: Development Studies, Law Faculty, and Department of Theology

Rhodes University East London Campus (No dedicated gender studies unit or programme) Gender Studies included in Social Work Course within the Department of Social Development; Undergraduate Social Work Course in Gender Studies


Appendix 2. Gender and womens studies teaching and research programmes at African universities
Table 22. University of Buea Department of Women Studies Unit Established in Gender Studies Womens/Gender Studies 1993 May be studied for first-degree course. May be studied for first degree course; masters degree course; research facilities to doctoral level. Women and Gender Studies Gender and development; gender and education; gender Research mainstreaming Degrees 4 Year double major degree M. Sc. in Women and Gender Studies Postgraduate Diploma in Women and Gender Studies Research Activities Supervision of M Sc theses and undergraduate final-year projects Individual research with focus on conceptualism, womens empowerment in local contexts. Students (2003-2004) Full-time: Men 3584/ Women 3879 Head; Women and Gender Joyce Endeley, B.Sc. Ib. Msc. Reading, Ph.D. Ohio Studies.

Table 23. Addis Ababa University Center for Research, Training and Information on Women in Development (CERTWID) Unit Established in Director/Coordinator Courses 1991 Dr Emebet Mulugeta One-credit hr. Introductory Course on Gender for Masters in the Department of Regional and Local Development Studies Annual Student Research Grant Programme for senior undergraduate students and Masters Students (write senior paper and thesis, respectively, on gender). CERTWIDs annual Students Research Grant Programme (i.e. See above) Research on issues related to gender by CERTWID staff

Research Activities

Table 24. University of Kwame Nkrumah Gender Studies Womens Gender Studies Students (2003-2004) May be studied for first degree course May be studied for first degree course Full-time: Men 10,558/ Women 3947. Part-time: Men 270/ Women 151. International: Men 75/ Women 184. Masters: Men 954/ Women 199


Table 25. University of Ghana Development and Womens Studies Office (DAWS) Gender Office Established in: Gender Studies Womens Gender Studies-MD Students (2000-2001) Women in Admin: Research Activities 1989 May be studied for first degree course Masters degree course; research facilities to doctoral level. Full-time; Men 9340/ Women 5334. Part-time; Men 14/ Women 40. International: Men 127/ Women 123 Acting Executive Secretary: Grace Aboagye, Med Aberd, MPA Ghana Director of Women Studies Office: Dr Akosua Adomako Ampofo Men and Masculinities, Land, Poverty in collaboration with researchers across the university Child Abuse Individual research on a variety of other issues, e.g. Health, HIV/AIDS, law reform

Table 26. University of Nairobi Gender Studies Womens/Gender Studies Students (2002-2003) Masters degree course; research facilities to doctoral level. May be studied for first degree course; masters degree course; research facilities to doctoral level. Total 22,000

Table 27. University of Malawi Gender Studies and Outreach Unit Gender Unit Established in: Director/Coordinator Research Activities 1999 Dr Lucy Binauli Starter Pack Evaluation Module 3 on Poverty Reduction/ Livelihoods, Intra-household Resource Distribution and Gender Aspects of Starter Pack The Unit has introduced a Gender Seminar Series whose theme is Gender and Development. The Seminar Series is open to all faculty members and students The Unit reviewed the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) documents on the following themes: Safety Nets, Environment, HIV/AIDS, Governance, Agriculture, Macro Stability, Poverty Profile, Growth and Diversification Infrastructure Credit- TaxationSecurity. (Objective of this activity was to mainstream Gender into the PRSP document).


Table 28. University of Namibia Gender Training and Research Programme Gender Unit Established in 2000 Courses Research Activities

Sociology of Gender Course (for third year students) Specialised postgraduate Diploma Course in Gender and Development National gender study Namibia Commercial sex workers case study

Table 29. Lagos State University Special Unit on Women in Development runs within the Master of Social Work Programme Special Unit Established in Director/Coordinator Courses Masters Degrees Research Activities 1996 Dr Olaide Adedokun Women in Society Course (second-year undergraduate Programme, Department of Sociology) Master of Social Work Programme (Unit on Women in Development) Graduate research work on womens studies (women as a social class)

Table 30. Obafemi Awolowo University Center for Gender and Social Policy Studies Gender Unit Established in Director/Coordinator Gender Courses 1995 Professor Simi Afonja Dept. of Sociology/ Anthropology Women in Society Course Part II Level Course. Gender issues incorporated into existing postgraduate courses across departments and faculties Developing a Masters Programme in Gender and Development Research and training activities- especially action-oriented research/or policy focused Collaborative/ multidisciplinary research efforts across departments, envisioned by the new development in the field of Gender Studies/ Women Studies

Gender Degrees Research Activities

Table 31. Usmanu Danfodiyo University Gender Proramme located within the Geography Department Programme Established in Director/Coordinator Degree Courses Research Activities 2000 Dr D J Shehu MSc. Programme on Gender, Environment and Development Gender and poverty research


Table 32. University of Sierra Leone Gender Research and Documentation Centre (GRADOC) Gender Unit Established in Director/Coordinator Degree Programmes Research Activities 1995 Professor Amy Joof Two-year survey of rural mountain and coastal villages in the western area on agro-based activities and deforestation Base-line survey of rural mountain and coastal villages in the western area on agro-based activities and deforestation Base-line survey on rape and war-affected victims and interventions

Table 33. University of Pretoria The Gender Unit Gender Unit Established in Teaching Activities Undergraduate 1989, Postgraduate 1997 One-day workshops on HIV/Aids and gender, human rights and gender and family law Five-day courses on good governance, gender budgetary analysis and gender mainstreaming May be studied for first degree course; masters degree course; research facilities to doctoral level. Full-time: Men 12,746/ Women 14,239.Part-time: Men 3787/ Women 3879.International: Men 1100/ Women 769. Distance education/ external: Men 5647/ 13,137 Women. Undergraduate: Men 10,440/ Women 13,354 Joelene Moodley

Womens/Gender Studies Students (2003-2004)


Table 34. University of Western Cape Womens and Gender Studies Programme

Gender Unit Established Leadership Positions Co-ordinator: Gender Studies Degree Programme

Students (2003)

1995 Professor Tamara Shefer Glenise Levendal May be studied for first degree course Masters degree course; research facilities to doctoral level. BA Womens and Gender Studies B.A. Honours Programme MPhil Womens and Gender Studies Programme Full-time: Men 4645/Women 6354. Part-time: Men 1444/Women 1597. International: Men 573/Women 440.Undergraduate: Men 4653/Women 6493. Masters: Men 702/Women 701.Doctoral: Men 132/Women 111


Table 35. University of Cape Town African Gender Institute, Cape Town

Gender Unit Established Women Administrators

1995 Chair in Gender Studies Amina Mama, Doctorate in Organizational Psychology from the University of London. Director of the African Gender Inst- Dr Jane Bannett, Doctorate in Applied Linguistics from Teachers College, Columbia University Lecturer Elaine Salo, MA in International Development from Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA and completed her Ph. D. in Anthropology at Emory University, Atlanta, USA May be studied for first degree course; masters degree course; research facilities to doctoral level. Gender in Development, The Politics of Gendered Knowledge Gender Analysing and the Theory and Politics of Development Honours Programme in Gender and Transformation Research Masters in Gender Studies Doctorate in Gender Studies Gender and Womens Studies on the African Continent History of Gender Research in Africa Intersections between gender, sexuality and violence in postcolonial contexts Individual research projects undertaken independently by faculty and researchers.

Womens/ Gender Studies

Undergraduate Courses Graduate Courses Graduate Degrees

Research Activities

Table 36. University KwaZulu-Natal

Womens/ Gender Studies Head; Women Studies. and

May be studied for first degree course

Gender Thenji Magwaza., B.A. Zululand, B.A. Natal, M.A. Natal, Ph.D. Natal (Sr Lectr., Dir.)

Women and Gender Studies Afrikaans drama and poetry; comparative literature; representations of Research gaydom, traditional literature.


Table 37. University of Stellenbosch Gender Studies Programme located within the Departments of Political Science and Sociology
Programme Established Director/Coordinator Gender Studies Research Activities Students (2002) 2000 Professor Amanda Gouws and Professor Andrienetta Kritzinger Masters degree course; research facilities to doctoral level. Related to research of individual lecturers Full-time: Men 10,923/ Women 13,425. Undergraduate: Men 6319/ Women 8296. Masters: Men 4366/ Women 4888.

Table 38. University of Durban, Westville, South Africa Programme in Gender Politics, within the School of Governance, Political Science Department Gender Politics Programme Gender Politics Programme offered Established in 2000 Department of Education School of Languages and Literature School of psychology School of Religion and Culture School of Social Science and Development Studies Programme of Environment and Development School of Governance (Financial Management) Honours and MA Programmes Department of Education within Gender Politics Programme; courses within other departments School of Languages and Literature School of Psychology School of Religion and Culture School of Social Science and Development Studies


Table 39. University of Mzumbe Gender Studies May be studied for first degree course Masters degree course; research facilities to doctoral level. May be studied for first degree course

Womens/Gender Studies

Table 40. Makerere University Department of Women and Gender Studies Separate Gender Studies Courses within the Faculty of Law Gender Unit Established Director/Coordinator Gender Degrees 1991 Grace Banjeba Kyomuhendo BA Programme - Three year Gender and Development as part of the B.A Social Sciences MA in Gender Law Faculty Dept. of Law and Undergraduate and postgraduate Gender and the law course Jurisprudence Research Staff Research, Commissioning Research, Student Research

Table 41. Uganda Martyrs University Gender Studies May be studied for first degree course Masters degree course; research facilities to doctoral level. May be studied for first degree course Masters degree course; research facilities to doctoral level. Full-time: Men 869/ Women 388.

Womens/Gender Studies Students

Table 42. University of Zambia Gender Studies Department Gender Unit Established Director of Unit Degrees Research Activities 1995 Dr M. Milimo Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees in Gender Studies Members of the department involved in research and consultancy


Table 43. University of Zimbabwe Womens Law Center Womens Law Centre Established 1991 Optional third/fourth course in undergraduate Law Degree- one semester Programme From 1991 to 2001 a one-year Postgraduate Diploma in Womens Law was offered. From 2003 this was upgraded to a one-year Masters in Womens Law Undergraduate Diploma in Industrial Relations, including a course on Gender and Industrial Relations Undergraduate Courses in Gender and Development, History and Women, Masculinities

Department of Sociology

Research Activities- Womens All aspects of women and the law, current research topics, women and Law Center dissemination methodologies for inheritance law reforms National compliance with the provisions of the CEDAW Sexual Maturation and Menstruation in Schools, Development of Life Skills Curricula- FEMED Project- Rockefeller Foundation Family in Zimbabwe, including development of family courts


Appendix 3: All-Women Universities

Table 44. Ahfad University for Women (Sudan) Womens Studies Unit Unit Established: Undergraduate Postgraduate Director/Coordinator Courses

1989 1997 Dr Balghis Badri Fourth-year Womens Studies Course, compulsory for all AUW students MSc Gender and Development Programme (GAD) Womens Studies and Gender and Development conducted at both undergraduate and postgraduate level


Table 45. St. Lucy Kiriri Womens University of Science and Technology (KWUST) (Kenya) Degree Courses Offered BSc in Computer Science B.Sc. in Mathematics Gender Specific Research Activities Gender and Career Research

Year Established September 2002

Status Private

Diploma Courses Diploma in ICT

Gender AllWomen

Religious Affiliation Christian


List of Abbreviations
AAWORD AAU AJLAIS ASA ASRC AU AUC BDDCA BREDA CEDAW Association of African Women for Research and Development Association of African Universities African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science African Studies Association Africana Studies and Research Centre African Union African Union Commission British Development Division in Central Africa UNESCO Regional Office for Education in Africa Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women CEPARRED Pan-African Studies and Research Center in International Relations and Education for Development CERTWID Center for Research, Training and Information on Women in Development CIPA Cornell Institute of Public Affairs CODESRIA Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa CRAU Centre de Recherches Architecturales et Urbaines DAWN Development Alternatives for Women in a New Era DAWS Development and Womens Studies Office DFID Department for International Development DRC Democratic Republic of Congo EBAD Ecole des Bibliothcaires, Archives et Documentalistes EEI Education Equity Index EFA Education for All EPI Education Policy Institute FAWE Forum for African Women Educationalists FBC Fourah Bay College FCND Food Consumption and Nutrition Division FTS Facult des Sciences et Techniques GAD Gender and Development Programme GDP Gross Domestic Product GE Gender Equity GGC Gender and Global Change GNP Gross National Product GPI Gender Parity Index GRADOC Gender Research and Documentation Centre GWS Gender and Womens Studies HD Human Development HEIS Higher Education Institutions HIV/AIDS Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome ICTs Communication Technologies IFPRI International Food Policy Research Institute IHLG Institute for Higher Law and Governance



International Labour Organization International Monetary Fund Institut National Suprieur dEducation Physique et Sportive Journal of Comparative Education and International Relations in Africa Millennium Development Goals Ministry of Education Non-governmental organizations National Policy on Education National Universities Commission Organization of African Unity Structural Adjustment Programmes Socio-economic Status Swedish National Development Co-operation Agency Science Resource Centres Sub-Saharan Africa Science, Technology, and Mathematics Education University of Buea Universit Cheikh Anta Diop (Cheikh Anta Diop University) University of Dar-es-Salaam University of Huston United Kingdom United Nations Economic Commission for Africa United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization United Nations Childrens Fund United States University of Sierra Leone University of Technology Sydney World Academy of Art and Science World Bank Women of Global Europe Womens National Coalition


Tables and Figures Tables: Table 1. Table 2. Table 3. Table 4. Table 5. Table 6. Table 7. Table 8. Table 9. Table 10. Table 11. Table 12. Table13. Table 14. Table 15. Table 16. Gender Parity Index (GPI) accessibility rankings Student enrolment at the University of Sierra Leone (USL). 1999-2000 Staff Members at University of Sierra Leone (USL) by institution and gender: 1999-2000 Student enrolment at the University of Ouagadougou 1995-2001 Summary of students distribution by faculties and gender in the University of Cape Coast, Ghana: 1999/2000 Distribution of students in the Faculty of Arts by sex and programmes in the University of Cape Coast, Ghana: 1999/2000 Enrolment by gender and degree programme in Public Universities in Kenya (1990-1995) Expenditure per student in higher education as percentage of Gross National Investment per capita. Percentage female enrolment in the various fields of higher education Expenditure per student in primary, secondary, and higher education as percentage of Gross National Investment per capita. Private higher education institutions and universities in Africa Population growth rate in Sub-Saharan Africa Gross enrolment ratio as percentage of total eligible for higher education Gender Parity Index (GPI) Sample of countries with significant gain in gross enrolment in higher education Expenditure on education expressed as percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Figures: Figure 1.

Figure 2. Figures 3/4.

Trends in expenditure per student in primary, secondary, and higher education as percentage of Gross National Investment per capita Gross enrolment in higher education and gender parity in sub-Saharan Africa Trend in higher education enrolment as percentage total enrolment in the early post-colonial era three decades later


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Biography Professor NDri T. Assi-Lumumba Professor Assi-Lumumba is a Professor of African and African Diaspora Education, Sociology, and Gender Studies in the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Professor Assi-Lumumba is also a member of four other Cornell Graduate Fields: Education; International Development; International Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Cornell Institute of Public Affairs (CIPA). She is a former Director of the Cornell Program on Gender and Global Change (GGC). In 2006, she was elected as a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science in recognition of her work on higher education, and its interface with women and gender equity, in Africa. Professor Assi-Lumumba is a Co-Founder and Associate Director of the Pan-African Studies and Research Center in International Relations and Education for Development (CEPARRED), Abidjan, Cte dIvoire, and is Chercheuse Associe at the Centre de Recherches Architecturales et Urbaines (CRAU) at the Universit de Cocody, Abidjan, Cte dIvoire. She is also a Research Affiliate of the Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance (IHELG) at the University of Houston (UH), Houston, Texas.