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Makerere University commissions 100 to fight sexual harassment

Some of the unveiled committee members

Some of the unveiled committee members

Makerere University has unveiled 100 members of staff to constitute the newly formed ‘Vice Chancellor’s Standing Roster of 100 to Investigate Sexual Harassment at Makerere University’.

The commissioning took place at Royal Suites, Bugolobi, Kampala on August 29, presided over by acting deputy vice chancellor in charge of administration and finance Prof William Bazeyo.

The function also involved launching of the revised ‘Makerere University Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment’ and the ‘Safer Universities Project’. Roster members attended a one-and-half-day residential training on matters related to sexual violence, the policy and their expected tasks.

Prof Bazeyo said the roster will be coordinated by the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate (GMD), and the university is going to set up another team to do counterintelligence of the roster members so as to ensure a military-like performance.

The policy and its regulations against sexual harassment, first formulated in 2006 and amended in 2018, will now not concern only students and Makerere staff but any other person on campus such as contractors on construction sites or external researchers and visitors.

Dr Euzobia Mugisha Baine, the director of GMD, explained that sexual harassment is part of the broader gender-based violence (GBV). She said the amended policy had shifted the responsibility of investigation from unit heads to a committee that can always be formed by the secretariat at GMD.

This will do away with conflict of interest because the committee will comprise people from units where the accused does not belong. Previously, there was no central implementing centre, but now a GMD-based secretariat will coordinate all issues.

The 18-page policy and regulations booklet, which Baine said is open to further amendment in future, addresses a broad range of issues aimed at a culture of zero tolerance for sexual harassment and making the vice at campus part of history. The booklet defines various concepts, outlines objectives, enforcement principles, strategies, procedures of handling complaints, investigations, penalties and appeals. 

Dr Baine said the Safer Universities Project is implemented jointly by Makerere University and Gulu University and supported by European Union, UN Women and Swedish government.

Its key objectives are the elimination of sexual harassment, elimination of violence against women and girls, and promotion of sexual reproductive health and rights.

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