Invitation to Join the 2024 International Women’s Day Celebration By WoHEN, AAU & WUA

Deadline Extended to March 1, 2024 – Apply as a Sponsored Participant: AAU-British Academy Writing Workshop for Sub-Saharan Africa (Early Career Researchers)
February 8, 2024
Official Launch of the AAU Europe Regional Office – Nottingham University, UK
March 5, 2024
Deadline Extended to March 1, 2024 – Apply as a Sponsored Participant: AAU-British Academy Writing Workshop for Sub-Saharan Africa (Early Career Researchers)
February 8, 2024
Official Launch of the AAU Europe Regional Office – Nottingham University, UK
March 5, 2024
Show all

Invitation to Join the 2024 International Women’s Day Celebration By WoHEN, AAU & WUA

Theme: ‘Invest in Women in African Higher Education: Accelerate Progress’ 

The African Women in Higher Education Network (WoHEN), hosted by the Association of African Universities (AAU) in collaboration with the Women’s University in Africa (WUA), will host a webinar to commemorate the 2024 International Women’s Day. The theme for the celebration  is “Invest in Women in African Higher Education: Accelerate Progress.” This webinar holds on Friday, March 8, 2024, from 10:00 a.m. GMT to 12:00 p.m. GMT and will provide the platform to highlight the gender inequalities in higher education institutions in Africa, track progress in addressing these, discuss the best possible ways to invest in women, and promote a gender-responsive and inclusive African higher education community.  All stakeholders of African higher education, both men and women, are invited to participate in this important and insightful event and to contribute to the key discussions.  The registration link is available here for reference by our stakeholders –


According to UN Women, investing in women is a human rights issue and cornerstone for building inclusive societies. Hence, progress for women in African higher education institutions (HEIs) can benefit the continent by contributing to the attainment of Agenda 2030 and African Union Agenda 2063. Although the primary responsibility for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) lies at the country level, HEIs in the respective countries are well placed to make a significant contribution to the 2030 Agenda (UNESCO, 2023)).  Again, although institutional efforts to increase the representation of women in academia are increasing across the region, they tend to focus on increasing female enrollment in undergraduate studies rather than the hiring and retention of women in senior leadership positions (Afua-Klege, 2022). A 2020 report by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) showed that only 24% of females are academic personnel in tertiary educational institutions across Sub Saharan Africa.

Gender inequalities have also been reported in STEM within higher education. For example, the African Union Development Agency reports that in 2016, the overall rate of women’s participation inequalities in STEM research was 34% across the African continent. The implicit gender bias towards men during the hiring process, inadequate institutional oversight of women’s representation in STEM activities, and limited institutional initiatives to facilitate work-life balance for females in STEM are some barriers that hinder the participation of women in HEIs. The African Union Development Agency further reports that women experience longer delays in finishing their postgraduate studies, such as Masters’ and Doctoral Degrees, while female researchers and academics struggle to build a solid publishing record due to societal and gender conventions. The African Education Research Database indicates that, out of 2,510 African-led studies surveyed by the database, only 32 % were led by women. Obstacles such as structural barriers, traditional beliefs and norms, societal expectations, gender stereotypes, and the patriarchal nature of many African academic institutions make it challenging to make any significant progress. Lack of leadership skills, lack of and ineffective mentorship, inadequate resources, limited networking opportunities, unfavourable organizational climate are other additional barriers to gender equality in higher education (Adewale & Potokri, 2023). Fostering networks and communities of women in academia can help create a supportive environment for sharing experiences and best practices. Education Sub-Saharan Africa (ESSA) highlights that the region is losing huge gains by underinvesting in women in universities and colleges. ESSA also highlights the lack of evidence about the role of universities and colleges in equipping women with leadership skills and opportunities.

There is also a shortage of sex-disaggregated data which poses a challenge in policy proposition and progress monitoring of women’s participation in developing innovations in the context of HEIs. In some countries, while gender data is present, they are often infrequent, sparse, and out of date, leading to low reliability of information (UN Women, 2023). In African countries where gender policies in HEIs exist, it is reported that they tend not to focus on the structural conditions that disadvantage women and by implication their limited participation in higher education or Science, Technology & Innovation (Nakayiwa et al., 2020). For instance, the gender criteria in HEI policies focus more on the gender dimension of team composition, the project beneficiaries and the project outcomes, instead of prioritising women for research fund allocation. Mainstreaming gender into research funding, technological innovations, and progress is underpinned by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (UN Women).

In view of these highlighted challenges, the Women in Higher Education Network (WoHEN) in collaboration with the Women’s University in Africa is hosting a webinar to commemorate the 2024 International Women’s Day.


The webinar seeks to:

  • Raise awareness about the impact of gender inequalities in HEIs
  • Create a platform for various actors—educators, policymakers, and partners—to discuss pertinent issues related to the promotion of equality in higher education in Africa.
  • To establish strategies in which to invest more in women in African HEIs
  • To document best practices promoting inclusive African HEIs

Expected Outcomes

  • Documentation of the Challenges, Opportunities and Best Practices for investing in women in African Higher Education.
  • Documentation of the pragmatic actions that can be undertaken by African HEIs towards ensuring gender equality in their systems and practices.
  • Generation of a communique at the end of the event for dissemination and further engagement with stakeholders.

Target Audience:

Female and male VCs, Pro-VCs, Presidents, Rectors, Provosts, Registrars, Deans, Directors, Deputy Directors, Lecturers, Non-academic staff, Students and CSOs who are interested in the theme.


African Women in Higher Education Network (WoHEN)

WoHEN was established to support women to participate effectively in the higher education sector, and across all the higher education thematic areas – leadership, management, administration, agriculture, business, health, STEM, education, humanities, social sciences, and technical and vocational education. This Network is being hosted by the Association of African Universities (AAU). Membership to the Network is open to females on the continent – that is female students, female lecturers/professors, female researchers, female personnel, female administrators, and female leaders in higher, tertiary, and vocational training institutions.


Association of African Universities (AAU)

The Association of African Universities (AAU) is the apex higher education organization in Africa and represents the voice of Africa’s higher education on regional and international bodies. Established in Rabat (Morocco) in 1967, the AAU currently has a membership of over 400 institutions of higher learning across all the linguistic and geographic divides of Africa. Its headquarters is in Accra, Ghana.

The AAU supports African universities to deliver quality higher education and, as its niche, creates a platform for networking among its members. The Association enjoys a unique capacity for convening most of the higher education community in Africa to reflect and consult on key issues affecting education on the continent. The thrust of its base is the nimble deploying of advocacy, commissioning of studies, and acting and becoming the clearing house and intelligence arm for these higher education institutions on the continent. The AAU operates in four languages namely, English, French, Arabic and Portuguese. It endeavours to raise the quality of higher education in Africa and strengthen its contribution to Africa’s development by fostering collaboration among its member institutions; providing support to their core functions of teaching, learning, research, and community engagement; and facilitating critical reflection on, and consensus-building around, issues affecting higher education and the development of Africa.


Women’s University in Africa (WUA)

The Women’s University in Africa’s vision is to be the best University in Africa in relation to the promotion of gender equity and equality in higher education. Its mission is to reduce gender disparity by providing gender-sensitive and socially responsible educational training and research. WUA is the only women’s university in the region that is directly tackling the problem of women’s access to university education. Its enrolment policy of 85% women and 15% men is contributing towards the 50:50 gender participation ratio enunciated in the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The University currently has three faculties, namely: Agricultural, Environmental and Health Sciences, Management and Entrepreneurial Sciences and Social and Gender Transformative Sciences and two Centres, namely the Gender and Diversity Centre and the Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Centre.


Contact : /


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *