The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), has expressed commitment to ensure gender equality is promoted in the higher education sector in Malawi.
NCHE Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ignasio Malizani Jimu, made the commitment at the start of a 3-day meeting in Lilongwe to discuss the Model Gender Policy for the Higher Education Sector.
The meeting drew together participants from public and private universities; NCHE; Ministry of Gender and Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
NCHE is facilitating the development of the Gender Policy which will be a blueprint for all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to develop their own.
This process, which will also see NCHE developing its own Gender Policy, is being financially and technically supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“As NCHE we are committed to ensuring that there is gender equality in the sector such that we are committed to facilitating the process of developing the Model Policy and ensuring that all HEIs implement their gender policies,” Dr. Jimu said.
Dr. Jimu thanked the UNDP for supporting development of the Model Policy as well as NCHE’s own Gender Policy and acknowledged the support the Ministry of Gender and the mother Ministry of Education are giving towards development of the same.
Deputy Director for Higher Education in the Ministry of Education, Dr. Valentino Zimpita noted that while some public universities in the country have Gender Policies in place, most HEIs do not have such guidelines which in turn affects delivery of education.
“A policy is the point of reference for a strategic direction. Absence of Gender Policies in our HEIs is creating chaos as HEIs are just haphazardly handling issues of sexual harassment and gender based violence for instance, so having this document will ensure sanity in handling such matters,” he said.
Dr. Agnes Chimbiri, Portfolio Manager (Responsive Institutions and Citizen Engagement) at the UNDP Malawi Office, said gender equality promotes human development hence they are excited to see gender equality promoted in the higher education sector as this sector also plays a huge role in lifting the well-being of citizens.
It is envisaged that both the Gender Policy for NCHE and the Model Gender Policy for the Higher Education Sector will be finalized this year.