UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

07/22/2022 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/22/2022 02:01

UNESCO Launches University of Dodoma Gender Desk

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; the Ministry of Community Development, Gender, Women and Special Groups; and the University of Dodoma will launch the University of Dodoma Gender Desk office together with handing over of about 800 copies of Gender Desk Register books to the Government through the Ministry of Community Development, Gender, Women and Special Groups. The event is scheduled to take place on 22nd July 2022 at the University of Dodoma, Dodoma, Tanzania from 0900 to 1200hrs.

UNESCO support to the establishment and operationalization of Gender desk at the University of Dodoma is meant to complement government's efforts of ensuring that Higher and Tertiary Education Institutions (HTEIs) have safer and inclusive environment that promotes gender equality and equity to all, partly through the establishment of gender desks. This support is a recognition to immense efforts taken by the university managements in addressing Gender-Based Violence and Sexual harassment in higher learning institutions. While university managements including that of the University of Dodoma have zero tolerance on GBV and sexual harassment acts, the existing reporting mechanisms are not well known to stakeholders particularly students, and do not offer friendly environment that encourages victims (survivors) of such acts to report. This situation has the tendency of inducing underreporting of GBV and sexual harassment acts. The launching of the gender desk at the University of Dodoma is a revolutionary step towards improving GBV reporting mechanisms:

"Launching of the gender desk is a milestone to us, and an important step towards strengthening university's commitment of ensuring that the university community, particularly the young people have a reliable and trustworthy point of presenting their concerns and receive support" Dr. Lily Makalanga-UDOM Gender Unit Coordinator.

The launching event will also involve handing over of about 800 copies of the gender desk register book to the Government through the Ministry of Community Development, Gender, Women and Special Groups. The book, whose development and printing process was supported by UNESCO under the coordination of the Ministry of Community Development is an important tool for implementing the 2021 Guideline for the establishment of Gender desks, and for operationalizing the activities of the gender desk in higher and tertiary institutions. As part of the UNESCO's contribution in the fight against GBV and sexual harassment in higher education, these copies will be distributed to HTEIs in both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar indicating that gender desks in HTEI s are now functional.

The operations of the Gender Desk will be guided by the core values namely: Accountability, Confidentiality, Client centered service and Respect. With access to gender desk register book, gender desks are expected to offer such services as:

  • Document all GBV related cases
  • Train and sensitize the university community on GBV, sexual harassment and code of conduct issues
  • Provide psycho-social support to survivors of GBV acts
  • Create GBV user friendly reporting systems that empower survivors to open-up
  • Manage GBV referrals
  • Generate evidence to influence policy dialogue on GBV and Sexual harassment cases

Working closely with the Government, Ministries, HTEI and relevant actors, UNESCO commits to continue promoting for safer and inclusive environment in higher education in view of ensuring that young people are protected and supported to realize their dreams.

"Our focus is to ensure that every student who is admitted in higher learning institution accomplishes their dream while healthy, educated and happy about the learning journey. In that regard, we will continue complimenting government and universities' initiatives that address GBV and sexual harassment acts in higher education" said Herman Mathias, UNESCO National Profession Officer for the Education for Health and Well-being Programme.

UNESCO through SIDA funded project "Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future (O3 Plus Project)" currently being implemented in seven (7) higher learning institutions including the university of Dodoma will contribute in ensuring that young people in higher and tertiary education institutions in Tanzania realize positive health, education and gender equality outcomes through sustained reductions in new HIV infections, unintended pregnancy and gender-based violence partly through the establishment of gender desks. Through this project, UNESCO will raise awareness of over 50000 university stakeholders on GBV and sexual harassment acts, provide office furniture to over 10 university gender desks, train about 200 gender desk coordinators from around 15 universities, and facilitate distribution of copies of the gender desk register books to all the project beneficiary universities.

UNESCO is the only specialized UN Agency with a mandate to higher education across its Member States. UNESCO's comparative advantage in education enables it to shape global education agenda and support Member States to have quality education for all. Through various projects and programmes, UNESCO has continued and will continue to be a laboratory of ideas and lead actor in promoting the realization of the international commitments in education, particularly SDGs.

Media enquiries:

UNESCO Dar es Salaam Office, Tanzania | Mathias Herman |+255 755 195 459| [email protected]