Advancing Women into Educational Leadership in Developing Countries: The Case of Uganda
Sperandio, Jill, Kagoda, Alice Merab, Advancing Women in Leadership
The need for women in leadership positions in schools in developing countries is important to ensure sensitivity within schools for the wellbeing of adolescent girls, to provide girls beginning to consider career choices with role models of women decision-makers and leaders, and to address issues of social justice by providing gender equity between adults within the education profession. This article examines the distribution of women in educational leadership in one developing country, Uganda in East Africa. It describes the potential leadership positions open to women in both public and private education, the qualifications and processes required to access them, and the reasons why women may not take advantage of the available opportunities. The article concludes with a discussion of the factors that must be considered when designing training to better position women to move into school leadership and countrywide educational decision-making.
Women must be present in leadership positions in education systems worldwide to provide a gendered perspective on educational change and development, and to ensure social justice through gender equity at leadership and decision making levels. The 4th World Conference on Women (1995) called for governments worldwide to "create a gender sensitive education system in order to ensure. . . full and equal participation of women in educational administration and policy and decision making" (Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action [BPA], 1995, Chap. IV, Article 82). The BPA Mission Statement asserts that equality between women and men is not only a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice, but also a condition for "people-centred sustainable development" (BPA, 1995, section 1). The presence of women in leadership roles at the secondary school level and above contributes to sensitivity within schools for the well-being of adolescent girls and provides girls beginning to consider career choices with role models of women decision- makers and leaders. It is also imperative that women be actively involved in leading educational change given the vital role that the education system of a country plays in both national development and the development of a gender equal society. For women to be active participants in the change and development process, they must be present and provided with the necessary skills and understanding needed to participate effectively in educational leadership and policy-making at both school and national levels.
Yet women remain under-represented in educational leadership in most developing countries, of which the Republic of Uganda in East Africa is one. Uganda has an excellent record of promoting gender equity in all aspects of life (Wakoko & Labao, 1996; Mutibwa, 1988; Kwesiga, 1997; Ministry of Gender And Community Development,1997, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Community Development,1999). The period from 1990 to the present has seen a rapid growth in the women's movement in Uganda. This has been evidenced by the encouragement of the establishment of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) promoting women's rights and their physical and economic well-being, the appointment of a woman Vice President and a number of female government ministers vocal on women's issues, and the hosting of a major international women's conference (Women's Worlds, 2002) to coincide with the opening of a new department of Women's Studies at Makerere University in the capital city of Kampala, amongst other developments (Ikiriza, 2002). In the field of education, attention has focused on accelerating girls' full and equal participation and retention in schools through a number of initiatives including the Girls' Education Movement (GEM) and the National Strategy for Girls' Education in Uganda, in combination with Universal Primary Education (UPE) providing both boys and girls with free primary education (Ministry of Education and Sports [MoES], 1997). …