Photograph: Prof. Olusola Kehinde andProf. Petra Abdulsalam – Saghir
Federal University of Agriculture (FUNAAB), Abeokuta, has launched its gender policy framework with a commitment to abide by the 15 provisions of the document requiring among others things that it maintains a secured and gender – friendly environment.
The policy document, the first of its kind in a Nigerian tertiary institution, also provides for mainstreaming gender into the institution’s decision making process, organisational culture, academic curricula and introduction of compulsory course in ‘Gender and development’ for undergraduate and post – graduate students.
The policy equally mandates FUNAAB to take affirmative actions to ensure gender balance in students enrolment especially in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, courses.
Launching the document on Monday at the university’s new Senate building during Stakeholders’ Workshop on Gender Responsiveness in Agricultural Research and Development, the Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Olusola Kehinde, said the policy seeks to guide FUNAAB in the course of applying the principle of equal opportunity, respect and inclusion in compliance with the spirit and intent of federal and state legislations.
The workshop was put together under the aegis of Gender Policy Review Committee, which prepared the ‘Gender Policy Document’ for the university and organised by Gender Responsiveness in Agricultural Research and Development (GRARD) in partnership with African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD).
Prof. Kehinde said every member of the university community, including any contractors or visitors, has a responsibility to contribute towards the achievement of the policy objectives.
He noted that FUNAAB is gender friendly institution with zero tolerance for sexual harassment and gender based violence, stressing that given recent global happenings, there was the need to empower and engage the university community to be gender responsive in research, learning and character for transformative development.
“This policy provides the framework to ensure that the university is guided by the principle of equal opportunity, respect and inclusion and complies with the spirit and intent of federal and state legislations.
“…All members of the university community have a responsibility to contribute to the achievement of an equitable working and learning environment and the policy applies to all members of the university community including staff, students, contractors, visitors or individuals engage in official relationship with the university,” he said.
Kehinde lauded FUNAAB and AWARD for a rewarding partnership since 2008, revealing that over 200 staff had benefited from different gender responsive initiatives till date which also enable the university to assist sister Institutions.
Earlier, the chairperson, FUNAAB Gender Policy Review Committee, Prof. Petra Abdulsalam – Saghir, in her welcome remarks, said gender responsiveness and mainstreaming would engender better society and transformative development.
Fielding questions from newsmen, Prof. Abdulsalam – Saghir said that families, communities, institutions, organisations and nations that are not gender-responsive would be akin to keeping one’s best hand or first eleven team on the reserve bench while pushing forward the second eleven into a competitive game.
She expressed the confidence that with the launched gender policy document, female Vice Chancellors will emerge soon, recalling that they already had them as Deputy Vice Chancellors and other leadership positions.
“We already have women leaders in FUNAAB and they’re also taking strides to ensure that they maintain that position and they give their 150% contributions to the development of the University, definitely very soon we’re going to see a women being the vice chancellor of this institution.
“We already have them as deputy vice chancellor,” she said.
She also pointed out that Gender sensitivity is different from women empowerment.
“In an environment where the male children need more concentration, concentrate on them, but if it is the women that need support, you concentrate on them too, so those are gender sensitive initiatives.
“A lot of men are even advocating for women’s empowerment because they know that they’re going to bring peace, if their house is peaceful, definitely they would be in peace.
“FUNAAB is occupying a very strategic and center position for all other institutions to also benefit. You can develop institutional capacity to pick up these policy issues.
“Gender is not something that you treat with levity because if you are not careful, you are going to step on toes or do something that ordinarily people would not be able to understand you,” she said.
Saghir explained that the same opportunity accorded a male child should be extended to the female counterpart, adding that gender balance, equity and justice should always be encouraged.
Also, Consultant on Agricultural Research and Development from Uganda, Mrs Monica Kapiriri, participated in the workshop via zoom.
In her contribution, she explained that there should be strong leadership to produce training, research and extension output that is designed to respond to the priorities of a diversity of men and women in the agricultural sector.