Critical Analysis of the Contribution of Women’s University in Africa Towards the Attainment of SDG 5

  • Tsungai Rumbidzai Nondo
  • Alexio Mbereko
Part of the Sustainable Development Goals Series book series (SDGS)


For a long time, patriarchy and capitalism have been major systems of women oppression and unfair treatment. In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a development framework for development for all. Women’s universities contribute towards several SDGs, but more specifically towards SDG 5 (SDG 5). This chapter examines the contribution of Women’s University in Africa (WUA) towards the attainment on gender equality and women empowerment. The paper utilised secondary and indepth-interview data as methods of data collection. The findings show that WUA contributes to SDG 5 amongst others in the following manner: student output, training of unskilled people, empowering working women, the development of relevant courses and public seminars and research. The WUA has a policy of enrolling more females (85%) than males (15%). In 2018, the university enrolment was comprised of 3144 females (83%) and 661 males (17%). In addition, the majority of women chose to do social sciences, followed by business management and lastly agricultural sciences. It also emerged that the university faces a plethora of problems, especially the lack of financial resources and support from the state. In conclusion, the WUA contributes towards gender equality and women empowerment. As such, the institutions occupy a special sphere that complements the scaling up of SDG 5 implementation.


Women’s university Gender empowerment Higher education Africa SDGs 


  1. Bennel, P., & Ncube, M. (1994). A University for the Povo? The socio-economic background of African University students in Zimbabwe since independence. Journal of Southern African Studies, 20(4), 587–601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Best, J., & Kahn, J. V. (2003). Research in education. New Delhi: Prentice Hall of India.Google Scholar
  3. Biesta, G. (2006). Beyond learning. Democratic education for a human future. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.Google Scholar
  4. Bloom, D., Canning, D., & Bloom, K. C. (2006). Higher education and economic development in Africa, Harvard University, Human Development Sector, Africa Region. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  5. Breese, J. R. (2000). The organisational field of women’s colleges and universities. Michigan Sociological Review, 14(4), 11–32.Google Scholar
  6. Cousins, B., Dubb, A., Hornby, D., & Mtero, F. (2018). Social reproduction of ‘classes of labour’ in the rural areas of South Africa: Contradictions and contestations. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 45, 5–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cowan, C. (2010). Societal perceptions of women’s education and the related process of gender disparity: A case study of Kakamega, Kenya. (Unpublished).Google Scholar
  8. Dey, I. (1993). Qualitative data analysis. A user-friendly guide for social scientists. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Gonzalez, C. G., & Harris, A. P. (2014). Presumed incompetent: Continuing the conversation (part I). Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, 29(1), 183.Google Scholar
  10. Horton, R. (2015). Offline: Gender equality—the neglected SDG for health. The Lancet., 386, 1928.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. ILO. (2018). World employment and social outlook: Trends for women 2018. Geneva: ILO.Google Scholar
  12. Kwesiga, J. (1993). Access of Women to higher education in Uganda, an analysis of inequalities, barriers and determinants. A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University London Institute of Education.Google Scholar
  13. Machirori, F. (2012). Women who’ve broken ground in Zimbabwe, her Zimbabwe, her voice, her revolution. Retrieved January 23, 2019, from
  14. Mama, A. (2003). Restore, reform but do not transform: The gender politics of higher education in Africa. Journal of Higher Education in Africa, 1(1), 101–125.Google Scholar
  15. Milana, M., Holford, J., Hodge, S., Waller, R., & Webb, S. (2017). Adult education and learning: Endorsing its contribution to the 2030 Agenda. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 36(6), 625–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mugagga, R. (2010). Makerere: Will female dominance last long? Retrieved May 16, 2018, from
  17. Nhamo, G., Nhamo, S., & Nhemachena, C. (2018). What gets measured gets done! Towards an Afro-barometer for tracking progress in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5. Agenda, 32(1), 60–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Nyaruwata, L. T. (2018). The dual-mode provision: Successes and challenges. A case study of Women’s University in Africa (WUA). Distance Education, 39(2), 194–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Oanda, I. O. (2005). New frontiers of exclusion: Private higher education and women’s opportunities in Kenya. Journal of Higher Education in Africa, 3(3), 87–105.Google Scholar
  20. Odhiambo, G. (2011). Women and higher education leadership in Kenya: A critical analysis. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 33(6), 667–678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Oksala, J. (2016). Affective labor and feminist politics. Signs, 41(2), 281–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Onsongo, J. (2009). Affirmative Action, gender equity and university admissions—Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. London Review of Education, 7(1), 71–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pampusch, A. (1990). The fight to preserve women’s colleges. The Christian Science Monitor.Google Scholar
  24. Pearson, C., Shavlik, D. L., & Touchton, J. G. (1989). Educating the majority: Women challenge tradition in higher education. New York, NY: ACE.Google Scholar
  25. Purcell, F. B., Helms, R. M., & Rumbley, H. (2005). Women’s universities and colleges. Rotterdam: An International Handbook Sense Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Reed, R. J. (1983). Affirmative action in higher education: Is it necessary? The Journal of Negro Education Persistent and Emergent Legal Issues in Education, 52(3), 332–349.Google Scholar
  27. Roudi-Fahimi, F., & Moghadam, V. M. (2003). Empowering women in developing society: Female education in the middle east and north Africa. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from
  28. Ryan, F., Coughlan, M., & Cronin, P. (2009). Interviewing in qualitative research: The one-to-one interview. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 16(6), 309–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Stuart, E., & Woodroffe, J. (2016). Leaving no-one behind: Can the sustainable development goals succeed where the millennium development goals lacked? Gender & Development, 24(1), 69–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Thakur, B. (2006). Women in Gandhi’s mass movements. New Delhi: Deep & Deep.Google Scholar
  31. UN Women. (n.d.).
  32. UNDP. (2010). Human development report: The real wealth of nations: pathways to human development. New York, NY: UNDP.Google Scholar
  33. UNESCO. (2009). Review of contexts and structures for education for sustainable development. Paris: UNESCO Publishing.Google Scholar
  34. United Nations. (2014). The flagship United Nations publications. Retrieved April 27, 2019, from
  35. United Nations. (2015a). Millennium development goals report 2015. New York, NY: UN. Retrieved November 11, 2018, from
  36. United Nations. (2015b). Transforming our World: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development. New York, NY: United Nations Secretariat.Google Scholar
  37. Vladimirova, K., & Le Blanc, D. (2015). How well are the links between education and other sustainable development goals covered in UN flagship reports? A contribution to the study of the science-policy interface on education in the UN system. DESA working paper no. 146ST/ESA/2015/DWP/146.Google Scholar
  38. Walkerdine, V. (1992). Progressive pedagogy and political struggle. In C. Luke & J. Gore (Eds.), Feminisms and critical pedagogy (pp. 15–24). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Women’s University in Africa. (2015). Annual report.Google Scholar
  40. Zieglera, A., Stoegerb, H., Hardera, B., Parkc, K., Portešovád, S., & Porathe, M. (2014). Gender differences in mathematics and science: The role of the actiotope in determining individuals’ achievements and confidence in their own abilities. High Ability Studies, 25(1), 35–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tsungai Rumbidzai Nondo
    • 1
  • Alexio Mbereko
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Community DevelopmentWomen’s University in AfricaGreendaleZimbabwe
  2. 2.Department of Child Sensitive Social PolicyWomen’s University in AfricaGreendaleZimbabwe

Personalised recommendations