Mainstreaming Gender in Higher Education in Africa


Over the past decade, African higher education institutions, Universities in particular, have been very keen to mainstream gender into their core functions of teaching, learning, research and administration systems. As a result most have introduced gender courses into various faculties and departments.

It is therefore, not uncommon to find a university with half a dozen gender based courses, scattered in faculties as disparate as Agriculture, Law, Medicine, Education, Sociology, Theology, etc. However, these efforts have usually been ad hoc and based on the commitment of individual lecturers, deans, and vice-chancellors. Seldom has there been a concerted, well-synchronized policy and plan for integrating gender into the university as a whole.

In response to a felt need to bridge persistent gender gaps in tertiary education institutions in Africa, the Working Group on Higher Education (WGHE) of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), in 2006, developed a Toolkit for Mainstreaming Gender in Higher Education in Africa in collaboration with the Association of African Universities (AAU).

To pre-test the Toolkit, the WGHE sponsored training workshops in collaboration with the AAU and its member institutions, specifically, University of Ibadan in Nigeria and the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

The Toolkit, which is now available in English, French and Portuguese and comprises ten modules and a literature review, provides practical guide on how to initiate a gender-mainstreaming program and establish helpful processes, with focus on reviewing the general institutional culture, staff recruitment, student welfare, curriculum development, research and faculty support.

Toolkit (English):

Toolkit (Portuguese):

It is the hope of the ADEA-WGHE and the AAU that many more higher education institutions in Africa will benefit from using the Toolkit and take practical and proactive steps to mainstream gender in their core functions in order to ensure sound institutional governance, human rights and equitable development and use of the most highly skilled human capital, towards the acceleration of the continents’ socio-economic development.