Engaging men in gender transformative work in institutions of higher learning: A case of the men’s hub at Makerere University
Kyomuhendo, Grace Bantebya
Kyoheirwe, Florence Muhanguzi
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It was noted that globally, sexual harassment (SH), abuse, and exploitation in higher education institutions (HEIs) remain a problem. In Uganda, it regularly made headlines in the media. Yet, it was only after high-profile cases were reported in the media that a spotlight was put on the problem. Moreover, despite there being policies on sexual harassment, changes in reporting processes, and a roster for the swift investigation of sexual harassment cases, sexual harassment persisted in the respective units of Makerere University. The study reported here was based on a project code-named “Whole University Approach: Kicking Sexual Harassment out of Higher Education Institutions in Uganda” (hereafter referred to as the KISH Project). It was action research intended to move beyond feminizing SH interventions and draw in all the key stakeholders with respectively tailored interventions that were need-based. The project applied multiple interventions targeting different stakeholders (including students, academic and support staff, and administrators) to address gaps, prevention, and support for the survivors of SH in HEIs. One of the project components is a “men’s hub,” which is aimed at providing space for both male staff and male students to hold dialogs on positive masculinity and call them to act as agents of change in a bid to address sexual harassment within higher education institutions (HEIs). As a platform that brings men together to discuss the issues of sexual harassment, the sessions at the men’s hub enhanced their confidence and ability to prevent and respond to sexual harassment as well as their knowledge about the issues of masculinity and how they relate to sexual harassment. It was found to be an empowering platform with opportunities for awareness creation and the potential for amplifying the role of men in influencing change by speaking up and acting on their masculinity to address sexual harassment.