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How UDSM fights gender violence at campus

19th November 2012
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  Despite the international conventions, a wave of new national laws across the globe; the impunity with which perpetuators harm, maim and kill women continues, and the scourge of violence against women remains with us. Every November around the world, those who have made tirelessly worked to combat violence against women, mark a very important anniversary…
A cross-section of University of Dar es Salaam graduates being conferred their Bachelor degrees during a recently colorful ceremony held at Mlimani City hall in Dar es Salaam (Photo a Correspondent).

Human Rights in Vienna in 1993 and the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1994 gave priority to this issue, which jeopardizes women’s lives, bodies, psychological integrity and freedom.

Violence against women is often known as ‘gender-based’ violence because it partly stems from women’s subordinate status in society, says Prof Yunus Mgaya, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) at the University of Dar es Salaam.

The deputy was elaborating on the success his institution has gone through in promoting gender mainstreaming during the 42nd graduation ceremony which also maeked the official close of the three hundred and sixty five days cerebration to mark the university’s 50 years anniversary since its establishment back in 1961.

For decades, gender based violence or rather sexual abuses have increasingly  in societies, at family, work places at schools and currently at higher learning institutions.

In executing day-to-day activity at the University, Prof Mgaya said the university has set friendly regulations that promote equal opportunities to both men and women.

He says currently the recruiting process of staffs or students and study ‘formally internal trainings’ opportunities are equally distributed.

“Their also increased representatives in different posts and that we have managed to set a department focusing in addressing gender issues. The department has successfully advocated and pioneered a platform for both sex to come together and discuss challenges they face,” noted Prof. Mgaya.

University of Dar es Salaam Council Chairperson, Peter Ngumbullu, in his remarks during the ceremony said the university has also formulated a new vision simply known ‘UDSM Vision 2061’ meant at regulating the varsity’s day-to-day operation however, the vision will also champion the implementation of gender mainstreaming in all levels.

The chairperson identified that there were direct effects to the university’s management; society and the country in general if gender based matters were not effectively addressed at the institution.

“We know some of you are graduating today but you have also found some key administrative positions in public and private sectors in the country. Being informed some have also applied for extra trainings…we still need seeing you good ambassador of the university,” he said.

Adding to make it effective, “favorable environments must be set earlier.”

The authority said however that some other key initiatives that include construction of a student centre that amicably claims a total of 17bn/- upon its accomplishment is underway.

He said the centre will provide a practical learning environment, to both sex. The main focus of the centre is to eliminate some inconveniences that students especially women had been facing when studying at campus.

To some extent, the vice chancellor Prof Rwekaza Mukandala appears unhappy with the trend that only few women were graduating in different courses of Master Degrees, Bachelor Degrees and PhD’s as it’s compared to men.

Statistics indicate that during the study year 2011/12, only 36percent of graduates are women, which are equivalent to 33percent of post graduate graduates and 37percent of bachelor degrees graduate, the Vice Chancellor detailed.

Prof Mukandala established however that, during the ceremony a total of 3679 approved students of whom 2323 are men and 1319 women were conferred with different certificates.

“There good improvements as it can be compared by the time, the university celebrated its first graduation ceremony where there was a single female,” he said.

The vice chancellor is impressed with the fact that there were no cases of sexual abuses that including: Non-consensual, forced physical sexual behavior (rape and sexual assault).

Unwanted touching to an adult, sexual kissing, fondling, exposure of genitalia, and voyeurism, exhibitionism and up to sexual assault cases that have been severely reported.

Violence against women is a persistent and universal problem occurring in every culture however it also applies to non-consensual verbal sexual demands towards an adult.

The use of a position of trust to compel otherwise unwanted sexual activity without physical force (or can lead to attempted rape or sexual assault).

James Rwemamu, one among thousands students who were conferred certificates with him walking away with a BA in Education Psychology had a different view on the subject.

He differed with the university’s authority saying currently there ware severe sexual abuses and gender based violence at the varsity and that women turned to be champions of the fate.

“Women do not value themselves, how they appear, the way they dress and execute things, calls for less opportunity in different fields…imagine of a married woman walking half nude…can you be able to give her a chance even if you had an opportunity?” he quarried.

Stressing that, there was the need for the university management to review its regulation starting with the students’ by-laws.

“There is also a need to set and fully implement a dressing code for the university…we have heard such adopted regulations in our neighbouring  universities and collage and it has worked, why not at UDSM,” added Caroline Mwaana graduate with Bachelor Degree of Business Administration.

She said some students at the university were drawn from various cultural backgrounds and that being together  neededs to shape them as one.

“People will not consider were she is from but where she studied…it’s good that when we’re carrying the good image of the university we both fully know the effects of gender stereotype that has been heating our economy and lives,” she noted.

The University of Dar es salaam is the oldest and biggest public university in Tanzania. It is situated on the western side of the city of Dar es salaam, occupying 1,625 acres on the observation hill- 13 kilometers from the city centre.

It was established on 1st July 1970, through parliament act no. 12 of 1970 and all the enabling legal instruments of the constituent colleges. Prior to 1970, the university college, Dar es Salaam had started on 1st July 1961 as an affiliate college of the University of London. It had only one faculty- the faculty of Law, with 14 students.

According to the UDSM website, in 1963 it became a constituent college of the university of East Africa together with Makerere University College in Uganda and Nairobi University College in Kenya. Since 1961, the University of Dar es Salaam has grown in terms of student intake, academic units and academic programmes.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN