In 2021 the School of Women and Gender Studies will be celebrating 30 years of teaching Gender Studies. Given its role in establishing different gender units on the continent, the School of Women and Gender Studies is proposing an international conference to bring together 250 international scholars in the field of Gender Studies to share experiences and set the course for the future of Gender Studies in Africa. This will be a Pan African celebration of Gender Studies on the continent, with an endorsement of more than 30 Gender Studies Programmes on the continent and beyond. The purpose is to celebrate the continent and the global South as knowledge producers of Gender and Feminist scholarship. Beyond the continent we plan to reach out to other programmes in the global South especially Asia and Latin America, as well as northern partners and collaborators in the Caribbean, North America and Europe.

Gender Studies as a field of inquiry and knowledge production has grown exponentially as reflected by the numerous educational institutions currently teaching gender studies in Uganda and Africa at large. These trailblazing institutional initiatives have contributed to a growing cadre of skilled human resource knowledgeable in gender analysis and an immense body of knowledge that is steadily contributing towards a theory of Gender from the global South”. As we approach the 30-year mark of the existence of the School of Women and Gender Studies (SWGS), we reflect back to the institutional history – the actors and interests that birthed the School, the institutional and intellectual contribution and re-imagine the potential of Women and Gender Studies as a transformative field of study on the African continent. We take note of institutional victories in areas of nurturing intellectual debates, cutting-edge research, theoretical and methodological innovations and partnerships. Importantly, we celebrate our footprints in the global economy of feminist knowledge production, reflect on the challenges encountered and reimagine the future of gender scholarship on the continent and beyond. Gender studies has had a ‘capillary effect’ into the academy and the general development discourse and has produced some of the most powerful transnational conversations around issue and strategy (Ahikire, 2014). Yet, paradoxically too, this success seems to be its source of vulnerability. This strength/vulnerability situation seems to make it very difficult for gender studies to transcend critical boundaries in order to create broader legitimacy in the academy and the world.

The International Conference on Gender Studies in Africa aims to bring together international expertise from academia, science granting councils, government, industry as well as civil society to deliberate on the question of Gender Studies in the academy and in national development practice in Africa. Led by Makerere University, the home of Africa’s oldest and biggest School of Gender Studies, in a continent with complex relations and development challenges, the conference will explore ways African universities can enhance the teaching, research and policy engagement/implementation in gender to answer Africa’s development challenges.

Questions to be addressed will include the following:

  • What has been the experience of 30 years of gender studies on the continent?
  • What is the role/significance of Gender Studies in Africa?
  • Does Africa need Gender Studies?
  • What kind of Gender Studies does Africa need and Why?
  • How should gender research be better conducted to meet the current needs and challenges?
  • How should gender research be financed and by who?
  • How should students be prepared for Gender and Development Practice?
  • How have thirty years of gender studies impacted the academia, policy, practices and narratives of patriarchy over the years?