Addressing the Issue of Gender Equity in the Presidency of the University System in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region

By Guramatunhu-Mudiwa, Precious | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

Addressing the Issue of Gender Equity in the Presidency of the University System in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region


Guramatunhu-Mudiwa, Precious, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Introduction

This paper addresses the issue of gender equity in the presidency of the university system in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The university president, also referred to as vice chancellor or rector by some public institutions, shall refer to the chief executive officer of the university and not the ceremonial position performed by heads of state or their designees in some public institutions. The first section of the paper provides the context-the general broader vision of SADC, and specifically the vision and policy drivers for gender equity in higher education. The second part reviews the literature that calibrates SADC gender equity protocols. The final section examines the study and concludes the paper by suggesting ways that SADC countries could implement gender equity in the university leadership with the view of advancing development in the region. Areas of further study are also identified in the conclusion.

Contextual Background of SADC

Southern African Development Community (SADC) is a grouping of 15 independent countries, namely: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The "vision is one of a common future, within a regional community that will ensure economic well-being, improvement of the standards of living and quality of life, freedom and social justice; peace and security for the peoples of Southern Africa" (SADC, para. 5). In other words, SADC exists to offer mutual cooperation in economic, social, and political activities among member states through sharing information and experiences, and pooling resources with the goal of building regional capacity.

Political overview. Politically, SADC member states inherited different governance systems from a host of different colonizers, i.e., Anglo-Saxon [Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania Zambia, Zimbabwe], Lusophone [Angola, Mozambique], and Francophone [Democratic Republic of the Congo] (Hahn 2005). During the colonial era a dual system of governance was the modus operandi with policies that gave access to resources, educational and employment opportunities for the colonizers, while marginalizing the indigenous people, particularly women.

As post colonial states SADC countries face the herculean task of nation building by correcting injustices left by the colonial powers-the main focus being ensuring a decent standard of living through good governance. In this realm, there are many challenges that SADC countries face, including poverty, hunger, disease, discrimination against women, unemployment, environmental degradation, and protracted civil wars, all of which disproportionately affect women (Mama 2008; SADC 2005; United Nations University, 2009). The dysfunction of some member states due to civil war and other problems points to the lack of collective good governance that potentially undermine the broader vision of SADC.

Economic overview. SADC's collective economies are generally agro-based with the majority of the population living in rural areas (SADC 2009). "About 70% of the population in the region lives below the poverty line of US$2 a day with about 40% below the US$1 a day absolute poverty line" (SADC 2004, 3). Women are the primary providers for their families and yet they still get lower wages than men, and comprise the majority of the informal sector and lower wage workforce. Women are the majority of agricultural workers and food providers for their families.

Despite high levels of poverty, the region is also endowed with rich minerals: Diamonds and gold in South Africa, Botswana, Angola, DRC, Zimbabwe, and copper in Zambia, just to name a few. Despite such an endowment of resources, the collective SADC economies are shrinking, a problem caused by bad governance and political instability (Hahn 2005). …

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