Why a Conference on Gender Studies in Africa:

The historical journey of Women and Gender Studies in Africa has been paradoxical. On the one hand you have the flourishing of the discipline in the academy and the field of practice. The 1990s saw several units offering Gender courses in several universities on the Africa continent. In the world of practice, many initiatives to integrate gender in development were initiated paving way for the gender units to inform policy and practice.

Gender scholars on the continent have been at the fore front of initiatives such as gender budgeting, affirmative action and gender focused research for scholarly and non-scholarly purposes, informed by the peculiar challenges offered by their setting, including war and conflict, HIV/AIDS, poverty, famine, environmental disasters and much more. Gender consideration are catered for in many African countries’ regulatory and policy frameworks. On the other hand, there have been threats to the discipline, emanating from Africa’s peculiar challenges. For example austerity measures imposed by strict funding regimes of higher education have raised questions on how Gender Studies should be taught in the Africa academy. 

This has seen the discipline instrumentalised, diminishing its social transformatory potential. Several meetings have been held to try and asses where we are and where we should be. For example the School of Women and Gender Studies at Makerere has held two international conferences in 2002 and in 2014 to take stock of where we are. There have been other meetings to reflect around specific themes, such as the 2019 Bellagio Conference to evaluate the impact of neoliberalism on the teaching of gender studies in Africa. This conference differs from the past events in that it will involve several participants in Gender Studies in Africa to review the Gender Studies in Africa in all aspects of teaching, theorising, research and practice. The specific benefits of Gender studies on the continent will be documents as a basis for repositioning for the future.

Purpose of the Conference:

The aim of this conference is to define the role of Gender Studies in Africa’s development by enabling a conversation about the past and future of Gender Studies in Africa in relation to:

  1. Teaching Gender Studies (what have been the experiences and how can they be improved)
  2. Theorising Gender Studies (what is the role of theory and theories of gender studies from the global north and south)
  3. Research(ing) Gender (What have been the experiences with gender focused research; is there a unique gender research methodology; the role of research in gender; and how gender has informed research praxis)
  4. Practicing Gender (How has gender been applied in the field of practice – from Development, Activism and Advocacy).
  5. Impact/Effect/Benefits of Gender Studies in Africa (positive effects such affirmative action, gender budgeting, reviewing Africa women’s history, etc)

Objectives of the Conference:

The key objectives of the conference are:

  1. To bring together different Gender units in Africa to share experiences of teaching and researching in Women and Gender Studies in Africa
  2. To examine the contribution of Women and Gender Studies to Africa’s development
  3. To examine the crises such as war HIV and neoliberalism have shaped the teaching of Gender studies in the academy.
  4. To assess the link between Women’s organising/activism in Africa and the subject of Gender studies in the African Academy
  5. To reimagine the future of Women and Gender Studies in African

Key Thematic Areas:

  1. Gender Studies as a Discipline
  2. Theorising Gender from the Global South
  3. Gender and Research (Theories and Practice)
  4. Gender, Feminist, Women’s Organising for Change (Local and International Partnerships)
  5. Repositioning Gender Studies for the future in Africa.