Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Years
2017 2018 2019 2020
Previous Archive
20 July 2018 Photo Leonie Bolleurs
Research informs about sustainable use of fresh water for food production
Conducting research on the topic of water-footprint assessment, are from the left: Dr Enoch Owusu-Sekyere, Dr Henry Jordaan, study leader and Senior Lecturer in the UFS Department of Agricultural Economics, Dr Frikkie Maré (Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics), and Adetoso Adetoro.

The fact that South Africa is a water-scarce country has been highlighted during the past couple of years, and even city dwellers were suddenly very aware of the drought due to the strict water restrictions. These are the words of Dr Frikkie Maré, Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of the Free State (UFS) and one of the graduates who received his PhD on water-footprint assessment studies at the recent June 2018 graduations.

The department is currently involved in various water-footprint and water-management research projects which assist in providing solutions for better water management in the future. “As department, we want to be at the forefront of research that will assist all agricultural producers with sustainable production practices to ensure economic, environmental, and social sustainable food and fibre products for the society at large,” said Dr Maré.

Research funded by Water Research Commission

The UFS recently conferred two PhD degrees (Drs Enoch Owusu-Sekyere and Frikkie Maré) and one master’s degree (Adetoso Adetoro) in the Department of Agricultural Economics. All three have been working in the field of water-footprint assessment. The research formed part of two different projects that were initiated and funded by the Water Research Commission.

According to Dr Henry Jordaan, Senior Lecturer in this department, four of his students already received their master’s degrees on the topic of water-footprint assessment, while two students are busy with PhDs and three more are working on their master’s degrees.

Topic gains momentum in research community
The water-footprint concept serves as a useful indicator to sensitise society about the impact of the food we eat on scarce freshwater resources – from agricultural producers using water to produce primary food crops and products on the farm, to the end consumer buying the food products in the retail store in town.

“Water-footprint assessment is a relatively new field aimed at informing the sustainable use of fresh water for food production. This topic is gaining momentum in the research community, given the substantial increase in the global population in the context of freshwater resources that is getting increasingly scarce. The challenge is to feed the growing population while still using the scarce freshwater resources sustainably.

Volume of water used to produce food

“In order to inform water users on how to use the resource sustainably, it is important to know the volume of water that was used to produce the required food products. Through our research, we are contributing to this knowledge by assessing the volume of water that was used to produce selected products, and to interpret the water use in the context of water availability to gain insight into the degree of sustainability with which the resource is used. The results are expected to inform water users, water managers, and policy makers regarding the sustainable use of fresh water for food production,” said Dr Jordaan.

News Archive

Gender bias still rife in African Universities
2007-08-03

 

 At the lecture were, from the left: Prof. Magda Fourie (Vice-Rector: Academic Planning), Prof. Amina Mama (Chair: Gender Studies, University of Cape Town), Prof. Engela Pretorius (Vice-Dean: Humanties) and Prof. Letticia Moja (Dean: Faculty of Health Sciences).
Photo: Stephen Collett

Gender bias still rife in African Universities

Women constitute about 30% of student enrolment in African universities, and only about 6% of African professors are women. This is according to the chairperson of Gender Studies at the University of Cape Town, Prof Amina Mama.

Prof Mama was delivering a lecture on the topic “Rethinking African Universities” as part of Women’s Day celebrations at the University of the Free State (UFS) today.

She says the gender profile suggests that the majority of the women who work in African universities are not academics and researchers, but rather the providers of secretarial, cleaning, catering, student welfare and other administrative and support services.

She said that African universities continue to display profound gender bias in their students and staffing profiles and, more significantly, are deeply inequitable in their institutional and intellectual cultures. She said women find it difficult to succeed at universities as they are imbued with patriarchal values and assumptions that affect all aspects of life and learning.

She said that even though African universities have never excluded women, enrolling them presents only the first hurdle in a much longer process.

“The research evidence suggests that once women have found their way into the universities, then gender differentiations continue to arise and to affect the experience and performance of women students in numerous ways. Even within single institutions disparities manifest across the levels of the hierarchy, within and across faculties and disciplines, within and between academic and administrative roles, across generations, and vary with class and social background, marital status, parental status, and probably many more factors besides these”, she said.

She lamented the fact that there is no field of study free of gender inequalities, particularly at postgraduate levels and in the higher ranks of academics. “Although more women study the arts, social sciences and humanities, few make it to professor and their research and creative output remains less”, she said.

Prof Mama said gender gaps as far as employment of women within African universities is concerned are generally wider than in student enrolment. She said although many women are employed in junior administrative and support capacities, there continues to be gross under-representation of women among senior administrative and academic staff. She said this disparity becomes more pronounced as one moves up the ranks.

“South African universities are ahead, but they are not as radically different as their policy rhetoric might suggest. A decade and a half after the end of apartheid only three of the 23 vice-chancellors in the country are women, and women fill fewer than 30% of the senior positions (Deans, Executive Directors and Deputy Vice-Chancellors)”, she said.

She made an observation that highly qualified women accept administrative positions as opposed to academic work, thus ensuring that men continue to dominate the ranks of those defined as ‘great thinkers’ or ‘accomplished researchers’.

“Perhaps women simply make realistic career choices, opting out of academic competition with male colleagues who they can easily perceive to be systematically advantaged, not only within the institution, but also on the personal and domestic fronts, which still see most African women holding the baby, literally and figuratively”, she said

She also touched on sexual harassment and abuse which she said appears to be a commonplace on African campuses. “In contexts where sexual transactions are a pervasive feature of academic life, women who do succeed are unlikely to be perceived as having done so on the basis of merit or hard work, and may be treated with derision and disbelief”, she said.

She, however, said in spite of broader patterns of gender and class inequality in universities, public higher education remains a main route to career advancement and mobility for women in Africa.

“Women’s constrained access has therefore posed a constraint to their pursuit of more equitable and just modes of political, economic and social development, not to mention freedom from direct oppression”, she said.

Prof Mama concluded by saying, “There is a widely held agreement that there is a need to rethink our universities and to ensure that they are transformed into institutions more compatible with the democratic and social justice agendas that are now leading Africa beyond the legacies of dictatorship, conflict and economic crisis, beyond the deep social divisions and inequalities that have characterised our history”.

She said rethinking universities means asking deeper questions about gender relations within them, and taking concerted and effective action to transform these privileged bastions of higher learning so that they can fulfil their pubic mandate and promise instead of lagging behind our steadily improving laws and policies.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za  
02 August 2007
 

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept