NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF LESOTHO

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Opening Remarks by VC OSSREA Lesotho Chapter's African Women's Month Celebration 28 August 2014

 

 

OPENING REMARKS BY THE ACTING VICE CHANCELLOR PROFESSOR MAFA SEJANAMANE DURING THE OSSREA LESOTHO CHAPTER  AFRICAN WOMEN'S MONTH CELEBRATION HELD AT THE ISAS AUDITORIUM, ROMA CAMPUS ON AUGUST 28, 2014 

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen

 

As we all know August is the month dedicated to celebrate successes of African women. This is in recognition of the 1956 match by South African women in their struggle against the pass laws. African Women’s Movement has since declared August as “African Women’s Month”. In Lesotho we have been celebrating this month since 2000.

 

This year’s overarching celebratory theme is “Woman of Character” while the Ministry of Gender has chosen “Gender Equality Beyond 2015” as the theme for Lesotho. A lot has been written about gender equality but it is befitting that one reflects on the status of gender equality within the University using academic staff ranks. One is aware that presentations of the day are not necessarily referring to gender equality but works done by female academics as a way of providing a platform for them to share their experiences. Reflecting on gender equality currently prevailing within NUL will help us chart the way forward for gender equality beyond 2015. For simplicity I have decided to compare senior academics by gender in order to appreciate what the position looks like currently. The rank of Senior Lecturer and beyond is used for assessing gender equality among academics.

 

Rank

Female

Male

Professors

3

10

Associate Professors

4

13

Senior Lecturers

12

40

 

 

Based on the figures for 2012 there is a clear gender disparity among academics. Generally speaking there are 3 female senior academics for every 10 male senior academics. Specifically there are 12 female senior Lecturers against 40 male senior lecturers. For Associate Professors and Professors there are 4 female Associate Professors against 13 male Associate Professors and 3 female Professors against 10 Professors. Clearly the scale is in favour of males. We have to reflect why this is so. Are there social and other constraints that hinder progression? We have often boasted about the advancement of women in Lesotho. But qualitatively we have not advanced as much. If one looks at critical senior positions in this university and throughout the country, one finds that the females have been left behind. This is why your workshop which deals with qualitative issues of women’s advancement rather than the quantitative issues is important.    

 

For me the theme you have chosen is particularly relevant. It raises issues about reproductive rights, maternal health, development issues and gender based violence. It indicates that women are not only biological entities but real beings who need to assert and fight to win their rights in patriarchal societies. But the thing which is also important point out is that rights are never given. They are fought for and won.  I need not refer to the often quoted statements by Malcom X on this issue.

 

The main challenges can be pointed out are lack of a coherent national gender policy and also lack of the same in our University. It must not be whether an individual in a particular position is sensitive or not. It must be policy directed.  Gender policy can help guide the efforts of the institution in addressing gender inequality beyond 2015. The platform the OSSREA Lesotho Chapter has afforded female academics should be used to chart the way forward for ensuring that female academics are visible in all academic activities that will help them unleash their potential.

 

The 21st century presents enormous challenges, especially with regard to gender equality among academics within higher education institutions. The figures that I have cited are sending out a clarion call to all of us to re-design and re-invent structures for the achievement of gender equality within institutions of higher learning. Structures need to be in place for empowering female academics and women in general to in order for them excel in all aspects of university life.

 

I extend my deepest sense of gratitude and appreciation to OSSREA Lesotho Chapter, and all the other contributors and participants who have made this Workshop possible. It is my pleasure and privilege to declare this workshop officially open.

 

I thank you!