Gender balance should be more emphasised in the rural areas

As Gicumbi District prepares to host the Gender for rural women day celebrations, to be held at Kaniga sector on October 26, many gender cross cutting issues need to be addressed to realize gender balance in rural areas.

As Gicumbi District prepares to host the Gender for rural women day celebrations, to be held at Kaniga sector on October 26, many gender cross cutting issues need to be addressed to realize gender balance in rural areas.

Many residents of Byumba sector interviewed expressed divergent opinions over gender balance.

Some men think gender balance means depriving the man of his rights as head of the family, while others think gender equality is a practice reserved for the educated class.

The rural folk who comprise 90 per cent of Rwanda’s population still view the woman as “the heart of the homestead” and a delicate human being whose main task is to produce children and carry out simple house hold duties such as cooking, washing utensils and cleaning the house.

It therefore follows that the woman is confined within the limits of the homestead and visits relatives or friends, only with the sole permission of the husband.

This in itself is a form of slavery which has its roots in most African out dated cultures, which view a girl as part of the man’s asset upon marriage.

The boys on the other hand have been treated with high esteem by their parents because they are viewed as the source of care and protection during old age.

This explains why many rural folk prefer to educate the boys to the highest level possible than girls.

Time has shown that this believe is false because many women currently contribute to the welfare of their aged parents than some men who upon getting jobs in urban cities, only visit their parents once in a blue moon.

Gender balance is not about equal sharing of house hold responsibilities between the husband and wife, as many rural people believe.

They understand gender balance to mean the husband going to cook food in the kitchen while the wife is having a rest in the seating room, or the wife attending to a friend’s party for the whole day while the husband is taking care of a baby at home.

Gender balance is about equal treatment of both women and men.

It is about providing equal education to girls and boys. Gender balance calls upon governments world wide to avoid discrimination against women while allocating jobs and to empower the woman in decision making at all levels.

It is about equal rights over asset ownership, especially land and other fixed assets between girls and boys.
Gender balance also prohibits all forms of violence and exploitation against women.

All women and girls should be given enough opportunity to develop their talents.

This is by ensuring that all babies receive the best start to life through gender sensitive, integrated early child hood care that prepares them to a productive life.

Gender balance is a global initiative to emancipate women and girls.

Leading personalities such as Haleh Esfandiari, an Iranian American scholar advocated for women’s rights in Iran and was detained for four months.

In his book “Giving,” former USA President Bill Clinton says women play a unique role in most reconciliation efforts and in dealing with other problems that require new beginnings.

Many International organizations such as “Vital voices” have been created to advocate for women emancipation. “Vital voices” is a global leadership initiative for women and girls.

It is a global partnership, non profit dedicated to building the capabilities, connections and credibility of women leaders around the world.

“Vital voices” intends to hold Regional Summits in five areas of the world in 2010.

These include: Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East.

During the Summits, these potential women and girls leaders will receive practical training to learn skills needed to become social entrepreneurs in their countries.

The training will focus on expanding economic activities for girls and women and increasing the leadership of women and girls in political or public life.

The Rwandan government has made wide strides in gender balance for the last thirteen years.

However, some laws in the Penal code need to be revised to realize total emancipation of women rights.

The Rwandan Penal code in its Article 354 No. 21/77 of 18/08/1977 provides a heavier punishment to a woman who has committed a crime of adultery than a man who has committed the same crime in the same conditions.

Also, Article 83 of the civil code book 1, confines a woman to the man’s choice of residence without looking at the woman’s or family’s interest.

Most of these laws are archaic and do not respect the government’s approach towards women emancipation.

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