As African countries push for respect and promotion of gender equality, political will is key to accelerate attainment of gender equality on the continent.
The remarks were made Thursday by Donatille Mukabalisa, the Speaker of Parliament, while officiating at a gender conference in Kigali held under the theme, “Changing dynamics and accelerating Progress”. It brought together over 200 delegates from across the continent.
Participants are expected to discuss, among others, the current state of gender equality and accountability in the framework of Agenda 2030 and 2063 and the impact of political will on promotion of gender equality.
Mukabalisa said Agenda 2063 seeks to fully empower women with equal access and opportunity in all spheres of life, including equal economic rights and gender parity.
The Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Espérance Nyirasafari, revealed gender equality was seen as a strategy for inclusive development, good governance and respect of human rights.
“In order to attain the Africa we want, we must position gender better in the African Union and accelerate gender equality in Africa by ensuring that no one is left behind. We also need to strengthen accountability mechanisms and measures to ensure respect of commitments,” she said.
Currently, Rwanda leads the world with the highest share of female representation in Parliament at 64%, up from 17 % in 1997. However, there is still room for improvement such as in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics).
Amb. Inonge Mbikusita, a Zambian politician, said political will was not about the President or Cabinet, it’s in the home, between parents and siblings.
“If the family foundation is strong, then we can talk about political will. We must work together to correct the mistakes and perceptions about gender equality starting from families by ensuring that children grow with a gender sensitive attitude as it will have a great impact in the way both gender will treat each other in the future,” she said
One of the panelists, Protais Musoni, the Pan African Movement Rwanda chairperson, said gender equality is good for society.
“Progressive political parties, skills development, community capacity development, creative arts and media, reaching out to grassroots for behavior change are key to gender equality” he said.
He called on African media to change the narrative where women, especially in African movies, do not promote gender equality but rather depict women as sex objects.