Rwanda was this week joined by three other African countries in winning accolades in recognition of its outstanding efforts in the promotion of women’s rights and gender equality.
The maiden Gender Scorecard Award, established by African Union in 2015, was handed over to President Paul Kagame, as well as representatives of Algeria, South Africa and Tunisia at the closing ceremony of the 27th Ordinary Assembly of the African Union in Kigali on Monday.
This was the second award bestowed upon President Kagame and Rwanda, for promotion of women rights and gender equality in a week.
At the closing of AU High Level pre-Summit meeting on women, African Women Movement, a coalition of women’s groups across the continent, presented an accolade christened, “Gender Champion Award” to President Kagame and Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, for their contribution in advancing gender equality and women empowerment.
In an interview on Thursday, Gender and Family Promotion minister, Diane Gashumba, told Saturday Times that, “President Kagame receiving two awards in a week is an affirmation that what Rwanda is doing to empower women is real and paying off.
“Such awards push the entire government, as well as individual leaders to continue advocating for women empowerment in social, political and economic aspects of life.”
The country’s Lower House is dominated by women, who occupy 64 per cent of the seats, the Judiciary is also women-inclusive, at 40 per cent, while 43 per cent of district councillors are women.
Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo, who, while addressing a post-Summit news conference, said the award was a testament that Rwanda continues to put women empowerment at the forefront of the national development agenda.
Although Rwanda has done remarkably well in promoting women agenda, and streamlining gender-sensitive policies across all sectors, there is more to be done in access to finance—which will see a number of women in private sector increase, officials say.
Gashumba said Rwanda is now focusing on how to better achieve financial inclusion for women, “from which we will be able to match gender equality in entrepreneurship and private sector in general. This is something we are so much working hard to achieve.”
Behind Gender Scorecard Award
According to Wheeler Mahawa Kaba, director for women, gender and development, the Gender Scorecard Award was initiated in 2015, at the request of the AU Commission Chairperson Dlamini-Zuma.
“She requested United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the World Bank to provide support in getting quantitative data and analysis that we can use to track progress in gender issues as well as where we need to do better,” Mahawa said.
Mahawa added that the Gender Scorecard Award is an addition to the tools African Union has got on how they measure progress with regard to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“Every year, we (AU) submit a report on the status of gender equality on the continent. But gender scorecard was added to bring another dimension; a quantitative dimension that is easy to read and determine where one’s country stands and which areas they are performing well and where they need to do a little better,” she said.
Joseph Atta-Mensah, principal policy advisor at United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, explains that the scorecard is a good way for each country to know where they are, in terms of women empowerment; and how women are fairing in economic, social and political spheres.
“The award shouldn’t be looked at as a name and shame (measure) because a few people got awards and others did not. It it intended to help us, all Africans, to collectively know where we are in terms of women representation and empowerment,” Atta-Mensah said.