It is with excitement and great anticipation that I take the button stick of driving the mammoth task of championing the gender agenda in Africa at and through Women’s University in Africa from the co-founder and founding Vice Chancellor Professor Hope Cynthia Sadza.  My passion has always been to see a transformation of social and gender norms promoting gender inequality through first of all a transformation of the institutions that act as gatekeepers to these norms, for which education plays a pivotal role. Africa’s gender parity stands at 0.58 (1 would be full parity) and it can take 140 years for the continent to achieve full parity without drastic action (McKinsey’s Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in Africa Report). Closing the gender gap in all spheres of life is urgent globally and especially in Africa where women and girls face the risk of being left behind-millions are not in school, and 4 million may never set their foot in a classroom.  Africa is at the forefront in the discourse and fight against gender inequality and gender transformative disruption through fostering an enabling environment for gender equality and gender lens investing, ensuring girls’ and women’s participation and voice and breaking the ‘cement ceiling’ for women’s leadership among others. The strides in promoting gender equality across various sectors are there for all to see yet the gender gap still persists.  It is in this light, that Women’s University in Africa exists to foster gender equality in and through university education.

Through its Gender Centre, the University will play a very important role of supporting the continent with high quality rigorous research to facilitate use of evidence in programme and policy decisions. Our Gender Centre among other things, aims at promoting evidence based programming by governments, development partners, the private sector and other players in addressing the underlying causes of gender inequality in Africa. It will do this by delivering a new body of evidence and developing a compelling narrative geared towards various stakeholders on what works and what does not in promoting gender equality. This evidence will deepen capacity for informed policy making and innovations in Africa.

My tour around the Women’s University in Africa’s Manresa campus and other satellite campuses in Zimbabwe has clearly demonstrated that the university has grown in strides since its inception. The infrastructure at the Manresa campus has pushed us nearer to our goal of reducing rented rooms and ensuring that all infrastructure remains stable and of high quality. To move with the times, there is need for the University to establish an Industrial Zone which will create a self-sustaining ecosystem that will ensure the University’s infrastructure is remodeled, renovated and refurbished at the same time ensuring a renewed investment in ICT infrastructure to support the demands for online teaching and learning. It is my humble appeal to our over 10 500 alumni in positions of influence, together with the partners and friends of WUA that we put our heads together to invest in the University to be the best institute in Africa,  that is unique and steadily leaving indelible footprints in addressing gender disparities.

I am proud that the Women’s University in Africa has made great strides in giving the African woman a second chance to the golden opportunity of university education. With our main campus in Zimbabwe located in Marondera and various satellites of the University established and running in Harare, Kadoma, Mutare and Bulawayo, we offer economically viable and competitive programmes. In Southern Africa, our reach and influence is in Botswana, Malawi and Zambia. Our aim is to increase our influence and reach to more African nations - our efforts are invigorated by this noble cause of addressing gender disparities and affording women access to university education.

Yes - We won’t sleep as we strive for this gender agenda.

I thank you.

Professor Sunungurai Dominica Chingarande

 

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