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UNITED STATES INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY (USIU) LEADS IN BECOMING THE FIRST HeForShe PRIVATE ACADEMIA CHAMPION

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UN Women Kenya Deputy Country Director Mrs. Karin Fueg, Dean of Students Robert Onsarigo and Prof. Scott Bellow celebrating the launch of the United States International University-Africa (USIU) HeForShe Club with USIU rugby team and students (Photo by UN Women/ Kennedy Okoth)

United States International University-Africa (USIU) became HeForShe champions on 4th August 2016, the first private university to commit to the HeForShe campaign in Kenya; through rebranding their Amka Dada Club to a HeForShe Club. The event was graced by the USIU Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza, UN Women Deputy Country Director Ms. Karin Fueg, Dean of Student Mr. Robert Onsarigo, Prof. Scott Bellow, members of USIU rugby team and students from USIU.

The campaign which was officially launched in Kenya by H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta on 26th November 2014 is a UN Women solidarity movement for gender equality that looks into mobilizing both men and boys as advocates and change agents to bring about gender equality.

The event saw USIU Amka Dada Club rebrand to a HeForShe Club and the institution become the first Private University to commit to the HeForShe Campaign through their Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza signing up as a HeForShe Champion.

‘’We all have a role to play especially men, towards gender equality because the future of this issue lies on our hands,’’ pointed out Amka Dada Vice Chair Ruth Nyambuto. She also invited her fellow students to join the rebranded club to champion for change in the university and to drive the gender equality agenda in their daily lives.

Speaking at the launch USIU Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza reiterated that gender equality is not a women’s issue but a human issue. ‘’My commitment to Gender Equality is bound by the human rights commitment,’’ He pointed out. Prof. Zeleza illuminated that USIU has established a 24hr help line to address issues of sexual violence and a committee was set up to addresses sexual harassment in the University. ‘’As a university we are cut out to achieve Gender Equality beyond enrollment,’’ he added.

USIU Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza signing up to be a HeForShe Champion (Photo by Un Women/Sharon Macharia)

In her remarks, UN Women Deputy Country Director Ms. Fueg explained that social transformation of both men and women is key in achieving Gender Equality. She challenged the students and Faculty present to not just sign up to the campaign but also make Gender Equality part of their daily lives. ‘’I also urge you to join the newly unveiled HeForShe club, be part of developing a community that can chart out actions for taking forward the Campaign on campus.’’ Ms. Fueg stated.

Ms. Fueg concluded her remarks by reiterating UN Women’s commitment to working with the HeForShe Club and USIU administration to continue transforming the campus into a center of excellence, where all women and men be they staff or students can enjoy a safe environment, where they can pursue equal opportunities and enjoy equal rights.

UN Women Deputy Country Director Mrs.Karin Fueg giving her remarks (Photo by UN Women/Sharon Macharia)

A panel discussion that comprised of four men: Prof. Paul Zeleza USIU Vice Chancellor, Prof. Scott Bellows USIU Faculty Representative, Mr. Eanes Ongus USIU Staff Chair and the only male official of the now HeForShe Club Mr. Lewa Lionel

The discussions revolved around socialization, gender roles and the roles of men and boys in the fight for gender equality., It was highlighted that; Blaming of GBV victims should not be tolerated, women are much capable than men even in sports, doing house chores does not diminish any man, if we want to be complete in any process especially political we need to bring both a male and a female on the table of decision making, institutions need to be mindful of hurdles women face and put in place policies that solve these challenges among others.

USIU Vice Chancellor in response to a question from the audience on gender roles stated that, ‘’we as men need to challenge each other towards gender equality and women’s empowerment and hold each other accountable to deconstruct patriarchy in the society.’’ He also highlighted that gender roles are constructed and can also be deconstructed at any time.

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