Despite women being over fifty percent of the total global population and significant global attention being placed on gender and women’s empowerment, they are nowhere near achieving equality. Many organizations have instead adopted a gender equity principle of providing men and women not with the same resources, but with what they need to succeed. This has been prioritized in the sustainable development goals (SDGs Goal 5) and in the African Union Agenda 2063 (Goal 17). Although there is recognition of the need to have gender equity in every area of development, the situation in Africa in particular, is quite dire and how to achieve it is still not very clear. Therefore, women remain grossly underrepresented across all sectors despite possessing competitive skills and there are many efforts - from higher education to business to government—to increase their numbers. Issues of gender however, go beyond just increasing the participation of women, it is also about eliminating the persistent, structural sexism in work environments at higher education institutions, as well as in the public and private sectors. Women’s voices also need to be represented throughout the value chain, but perhaps most importantly at the leadership level of policy, research, and business so that there are advocates negotiating for gender equity during decision making. Finally, there is need to integrate gender at all levels so that solutions are provided for both women and men in their day-to-day lives as agents of development.
This session will focus specifically on the higher education sector and examine some of the transformative strategies for allocating resources for gender equity and achieving SDG Goal #5. We will discuss gender equity challenges in higher education and the role that different organizations are playing in facilitating gender financing through building partnerships, providing tailored technical assistance and guidance and building institutional capacity and knowledge.