KIGALI - President Paul Kagame has praised Rwandan women for their role in the development of the country, adding that empowering women and ensuring gender equality were yardsticks for development.
Kagame, made the remarks, yesterday, while opening a two day International Conference on the “Role of Leadership in Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.”
“Empowering women and ensuring gender equality ultimately enriches communities and entire nations. Both historically, during our liberation struggle and even more recently, in reconstructing our country, women have contributed greatly and have been at the forefront of political, economic and reconciliation initiatives,” Kagame said.
He challenged world leaders to exploit the potential of the youth as a means towards new and innovative ways to sustain and accelerate progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment around the world.
“I want to challenge us all - as leaders and people of influence - to find new and innovative ways to sustain and accelerate progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment around the world. In doing this, we should harness the potential of our young people, who are not constrained by gender biases, of new technologies for social education and of partnerships across governments, civil society and the private sector,” he said
Kagame also asked the leaders to recognize the efforts of hardworking women who, most of the time, have to go through challenges to record any achievements.
“We should also recognize and appreciate the hardworking women who juggle many important responsibilities, at the same time in many cases, as professionals, entrepreneurs, wives, mothers and much more, often in challenging circumstances,” he said
Kagame urged the conference participants to refrain from dwelling on a few victories in the area of gender equality and women empowerment.
“The struggle to achieve gender equality does not cease when we experience a few victories. On the contrary, the stakes are raised even higher and we as leaders are challenged to keep on running, to run even faster, and think ahead of our times,” he said
Kagame also emphasized the importance of accountability among leaders and their constituencies.
“Another point I would like to make relates to accountability. Leadership and accountability are two sides of the same coin – one cannot exist without the other. Leaders must be held accountable by their peers and constituencies, but must also ensure accountability among those that they lead,” he said
The Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, who was in attendance, congratulated the President upon Rwanda’s achievement, of the highest number of women parliamentarians.
“Your story reveals a country’s resilience. You have demonstrated to the world that achieving women legislative members is possible despite challenges,” she said.
Other dignitaries attending the Conference include, Susan D. Page, the United States Deputy Secretary of State, African Affairs, Diana Ofwona, the regional Programme Director, UNIFEM Central Africa, and Fatou Bensouda, the deputy Prosecutor General for the International Criminal Court (ICC) among others
Kagame was later hosted to a dinner by the Women leaders, where he received the Lifetime Leadership Award for development and equality.