Embracing the Sustainable Development Goals – A project contributing to Gender Equality


Sustainable development, business ethics, CSR and responsible management have been in the core DNA of Maastricht School of Management (MSM) since its inception. Not only is it clearly at the heart of MSM’s vision, mission and values, but it is also propagated by the students as they journey through the MSM experience, the passionate and international MSM staff and faculty, MSM’s international partner institutes and the corporate partners that share MSM’s vision for ‘working together for better global management’.

This article is part of a series highlighting how MSM as an institute, our students and alumni contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. In this article, the spotlight is on Rolando Jr. Villamero, alumnus of MSM’s Executive Education program Project Finance and Project Management.

A project on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and disabilities in Kenya
In April 2018 Rolando Jr. Villamero, Co-Founder of Global Observatory for Inclusion (GLOBI) in Kenya, followed MSM’s Executive Education course Project Finance & Project Management program because he felt the need to enrich his skills in managing strategies and projects. Rolando is an advocate for disability inclusion with a background in teaching and learning. Currently Rolando works as Inclusive Education Officer at UNICEF Kenya where his focus is on inclusive education for children with disabilities.

Right after the Project Finance and Project Management course, Rolando and his colleague Esmael received a grant from the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation for a one-year project on harmful cultural practices, such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and disabilities in Kenya. The project proposal submittted by Rolando and Esmael focused on mobilizing girls and women with disabilities in the fight against FGM through capacity building.

Implementing the lessons learned
The project gave Rolando the opportunity to immediately apply the lessons learned during MSM’s Project Finance and Project Management course. “All topics that were covered in the program were very helpful,” said Rolando. “In developing the proposal, we were asked to clearly define the problem, map out the stakeholders and determine the results framework. In addition we needed to develop the matrix of activities and the budget breakdown.” While writing the proposal, Rolando could continuously refer to the materials that MSM provided and the tips on how to strengthen a project proposal. “The course also provided me with the skills to run the project. It helped me to develop a robust and realistic results framework and equipped me with the skills to respond adequately to significant changes in the project implementation.

Results of the project
The project delivered some valuable results to enhance the awareness of FGM among persons with disabilities in Kenya. As literature on the topic did not yet exist, Rolando and Esmael established more knowledge about the link between FGM and disability in Kenya, through conducting an interview with a person with a disability. In addition the project contributed to publishing accessible formats of the ‘Prohibition of FGM Act’. This Act outlines what FGM is all about as well as the FGM-related activities considered illegal. The Act includes a section regarding the punishments for initiating and executing FGM-related activities. “However, the Act did not yet have accessible formats for persons with disabilities,” Rolando explains. “As we recognize the power of information as a prerequisite for empowerment, we used these accessible formats during the capacity building workshops for persons with disabilities.” The workshops focused on educating persons with disabilities about harmful cultural practices such as FGM and the policy condemning the act. “A critical achievement of the project is the engagement with the government, more specifically with the Anti-FGM Board. Through the collaboration with the FGM-Board the sustainability of the project has been guaranteed, also after the one-year duration. The Board has the official mandate from the Government of Kenya to facilitate activities and initiatives geared towards ending FGM,” Rolando adds.

Continuation of the project
The continuation of the project will now be led by the government, through the Anti-FGM Board. Esmael will commit his time and expertise to ensure that the project is scaled up and that the stakeholders benefit from the lessons drawn from this pilot project. Through the project, it is recognized that persons with disabilities need to be actively engaged in ending FGM.

My hope for the future
The project aims to contribute to the goal of ‘leaving no one behind’. Hence, through the project, we aimed to ensure that people with disabilities, especially girls and women with disabilities, have the capacities to fight for their right to be protected against harmful cultural practices such as FGM,” said Rolando. Rolando would also like to pursue his PhD in Inclusive Education to further expand his expertise.

Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
The results achieved through the project are key contributions to Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality. SDG 5 aims to achieve gender equality and to empower women and girls by 2030. The United Nations also refer to FGM in their description of SDG 5. “Progress is occurring regarding harmful practices such as child marriage and FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), which has declined by 30% in the past decade, but there is still much work to be done to completely eliminate such practices.”

Gender equality in MSM’s education programs

In a recent article by the Financial Times it is stated that a record number of women are signing up for MBA programs. MSM is proud to also have a high percentage of women in its Master in Management and MBA programs. Around 40% of the students in these programs are women.

Capacity building projects in gender equality

Besides being a business school offering management education, MSM is also a management development institute offering capacity building solutions for clients around the world. Part of the expertise areas are Inclusive Development and Mental, Sexual and Reproductive Health. MSM focuses on overcoming gender inequalities in education, business and public services (SDG 5).

In this light MSM has started a 3-year project to end impunity of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Uganda. Through this project, crucial training institutions for police and judiciary officers are equipped with the capacity to better address cases of SGBV in order to prosecute perpetrators and treat SGBV survivors with the sensitivity they deserve. Project Manager Dr. Astrid ter Wiel, indicates that the project is particularly gender sensitive by using both male and female staff and trainers to conduct SGBV trainings. “The training sessions have a representation of both male and female trainers. The SGBV curricula addresses issues on gender, how to apply gender perspectives in handling SGBV matters, how to use a human rights approach in handling gender and SGBV issues, and how SGBV impacts different genders. Finally, addressing SGBV will improve equal relations between sexes and creates a safer environment for both men and women, girls and boys.” The project started in January 2019 and will run for three years. Click here for more information. The project is funded by the Nuffic Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP).

MSM also facilitated training activities in Military and Police Hospitals to prevent retraumatisation of SGBV survivors in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Medical staff members are trained to apply a gender sensitive lens on treatment of SGBV survivors, including male survivors, and to include family/social peer groups of survivors to ensure proper follow up after treatment.

These are just two examples of MSM’s capacity building projects focusing on gender equalities. Other examples can be found here.

Maastricht School of Management: Working together for better global management

As a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), MSM strives towards making the world a better place through responsible management. MSM aims to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) in all its activities: the international capacity-building programs, the custom made programs, research activities and in its education programs. To learn more on how MSM contributes to the SDG’s, click here.