East African University Women’s Games: Forging an equal playing field for women in Eastern Africa sports

Showing its commitment to modeling the best practices for the promotion of equality in sports participation for female students, the Federation of Eastern African Universities Sports (FEAUS) resurrected one of its rather forgotten competitions in the FEAUS Women’s Games which was held at the Busitema University from 15 to 17 of April 2022.
The three day event attracted nine universities from the Eastern Africa Region, with Kenya and Uganda the dominant participants. Athletes took part in 13 sports – woodball, basketball, chess, football, table tennis, tennis, scrabble, netball, rugby, volleyball, handball, athletics, and swimming.
The event kicked off with a day-long gender round table forum to provide ideas on overcoming the gender inequality bias in sports development, especially in the school sports system. Tagged “Forging an Equal Playing Field for Women in Eastern African Sports”, the interactive session included speakers like Peninnah Kabenge, the Vice president of FISU and secretary general of FASU (Federation of Africa University Sports), who presented on the need to level the playing ground through gender balance in all FISU and FASU games.
“The FEAUS Women Games are meant for women capacity building; all coaches and officials in this championship are all women. There is need to fight against negative gender stereotypes in sport and advocate for gender quality in coaching, officiation, and administration. The female games are a great initiative and should be consciously guided,” Kabenge said.
Ms. Agnes Baluka, Senior Sports Tutor at Busitema University and Vice President Administration for FEAUS, contributed on the packaging of women for leadership in university sports, gender – sports, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), as well as proposed mentorship programs. Reverend Canon Duncan Mugumya, Commissioner in charge of physical education and sports, had a lively presentation about gender, inclusivity in sports, and special needs in sports.
“FEAUS is humbled to have the gender round table discussion. This is to encourage more females take upon sports as players, leaders, referees, coaches, and other positions of responsibilities”, said Dr Simon Munayi, President of FEAUS.
Vice Chancellor of the host university, Professor Paul Wako, in his remarks elucidated the university’s sensitivity to gender equality. “We are a gender sensitive organisation and we are proud to be hosts of 1st FEAUS Women Games. The first objective of Busitema University’s strategic plan is to promote gender equality, equity and empowerment.”
Makerere University came out champions winning the overall trophy with five gold medals, three silver, and one bronze. Busitema University were first runners up with two gold, two silver, and two bronze medals.
With the main purpose of the event being to encourage females to take on opportunities in sports, Yvonne Peace, a basketball player from the United States International University (USIU) Kenya, hailed the impressive turnout of women in sports. “I am very happy to have participated in these games. It’s not just for us athletes but also for the female referees and coaches who also took part in their numbers. Though we did not get the desired number of universities, those available provided a great match up and there are a few lessons we will take home and I hope the other students and schools have learnt a thing or two too,” she said.
The second edition of the Games will take place in February 2023 at United States International University – Africa, in Nairobi, Kenya.

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