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UN Women Zimbabwe partners Africa University - IPLG to mainstrem gender in curricula of security sector academic institutions

Professor Pamela Machakanja, Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance, Africa University, Zimbabwe

There is a meeting of minds at Africa University at the Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance (IPLG) today. The event is a training of trainers workshop organised by UN Women in partnership with the IPLG at Africa University. The IPLG offers a unique learning environment in Zimbabwe where Africa is represented in terms of education in Leadership, Peace and Governance. The institute currently offers four Master degrees in Peace and Governance; in Public Policy and Governance; in Intellectual Property and in Human Rights and Development, and houses a large contingency of students from conflict zones in Africa such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Mozambique. As such Zimbabwean students enrolled at AU have a lot of experiences and practices to learn from their colleagues. Some of the IPLG’s Executive Masters academic sessions are offered off site, at Belvedere Teachers’ College in Harare in a bid to create an opportunity to reach out to as many students as possible in the country. The institute also co-opts key scholars and lecturers from different parts of Africa, and with experience in conflict responsive programming and teaching to participate in their teaching programmes. This Methodist related institute sets itself up high as a best practice in Africa in that it does not draw any money from the central budget in Zimbabwe, but sustains itself through tuition fees and donor funds. As such grant writing and fundraising one of the key elements of the IPLG.

“Without Peace there is no development, without peace leadership is challenged and without peace institutions of governance are weakened. Real peace is only possible when women and men are equal actors in all processes of governance and peacebuilding. This training of trainers workshop on mainstreaming gender in the curricula of the Correctional Services is very important, and having course designers, lecturers, students, board members and representatives of the management committee of the Correctional Services together here for training provides a safe space for co-learning, co-participation and co-development of the final gender sensitive curricula for the Correctional Services in Zimbabwe, ” says Professor Machakanja, Director of the IPLG, Africa University.

UN Women Zimbabwe CO comes into this partnership under the ambit of its two year Peacebuilding and Security project initiated in November 2011. Through this project, the agency has undertaken several initiatives to identify strategic entry points for its programme interventions to make the security sector conducive for equal participation of women and men, as well as to eliminate violence against women through strengthening the capacities of security sector actors to effectively respond to gender insecurities in the country. UN Women also commissioned a consultancy aimed at increasing the knowledge and skills of security sector actors on Gender, Peace and Security through academic and continuous in-service training programmes that provide training to the security sectors in Zimbabwe, and this was done in partnership with Professor Pamela Machakanja of the IPLG, AU. The consultancy targeted a number of academic institutions which offer security sector studies such as Bindura State University of Science Education, Solusi Seventh Day Adventist University, Africa University and the Zimbabwe Institute of Correctional Services.
All of these academic programmes and security sector training institutions provide strategic opportunities for incorporating and/or strengthening the gender perspective in the curricula used for training security sector actors at various levels. The scope of this work will provide a baseline analysis of the curricula used from a gender perspective and ground-breaking entry level strategies for incorporating gender, peace and security issues into the academic and continuous in-service training. The institutions involved in the study have committed to mainstreaming gender in their curricula as recommended by the study report with effect from the year 2015. The training being offered through a series of ToT designed by UN Women and IPLG are aimed at sensitizing and equipping the lecturers and related personnel in the said institutions with knowledge and skills for gender sensitive academic tutorship.

“This training has challenged me to think seriously about ensuring there is gender sensitive training and skills development in the Correctional Services. My expectations are that by the end of this workshop I will have a clearer understanding of how gender can be mainstreamed in our teaching curricula and what gender programmes can be implemented in the Correctional Services initiatives to promote development among women employed by this sector and mostly the female inmates together with their children who are in cells because their mothers have committed crimes," testifies “Senior Officer Mukanangana, ZICS.

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