Access or inclusion? Conceptualisation and operationalisation of gender equality in Zimbabwean state universities.
Keywords:gender equality, model of equality, tailoring approach, sustainable development, gender dimensions, social change, social inclusion
This article explores concerns about gender inequality in Zimbabwean state universities. The researcher’s interest arose from the realisation of persistent gender inequalities despite initiatives to close gender gaps. Of particular concern is the conceptualization and operationalisation of gender equality in institutions. Focusing only on the student admissions sector, this paper critically surveys the experiences of the departmental chairpersons and students who enrolled through affirmative action, their vision of gender equality and the impact thereof on the inclusion of the said students in the mainstream. The study applied a gender perspective to development as well as in-depth and focus group interviews with purposively sampled stakeholders. The findings of the study shed light on the adopted tailoring model of gender equality by the institutions and how the model blinkered the other qualitative gender dimensions of the mainstream, rendering the envisaged goal of gender equality elusive due to the exclusion of the students from the mainstream. Based on the findings, useful recommendations are made to resuscitate the almost paralysed gender equality agenda of the institutions.