DAKAR - President Paul Kagame yesterday received the 2007 African Gender Award, which he won in January, for the substantial gains made in advancing the cause of Rwandan women.
The Head of State, who received the biennial award from Dakar, Senegal, was selected for the prize by the Women Africa Solidarity (FAS) and the Committee of the African Women for Peace and Development (AWCPD). Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade handed him the prize.
The award-giving ceremony was the key highlight of the African Gender Forum held under the theme “African Women and Migration.”
“Since the 1994 Genocide, Rwanda has been distinguished for its integration of women in the reconstruction process and its fight against gender-based violence. Rwanda is the only country in the world that can count 48% of women MPs in their national Parliament,” the organisation said.
The award is given at the government level to recognise
African leaders who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in encouraging gender parity in politics, it added.
The President was chosen from three African presidents for the award, others being Festus Gontebanye Mogae of Botswana and Liberia’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first African woman president.
Two other Rwandan women organisations were also recognised as is the norm to present two other awards to groups from the award-winning country.
In that regard, Profemmes Twese Hamwe won the Civil Society award, with its president Therese Bishagara, receiving it while the president of Banque Populaire pour la Promotion de la Femme, Henriette Zimulinda, picked her bank’s prize in the Private Sector Award category.
These awards were presented to the two women leaders by the Vice-President of Liberia, Joseph Boakai.
“The choice of the jury was guided by certain criterion and indicators in the fields related to the Solemn Declaration on the equality between the men and the women in Africa, and it was found out that President Paul Kagame, made exceptional efforts to promote the rights of women in his country,” FAS said in an earlier statement.
The process to select the winner of the gender prize is conducted by a committee of members and partners of FAS, experts, eminent female personalities, representatives of the civil company, private sector and networks of the African women.
The Speaker of Pan-African Parliament, Gertrude Mongella, presided over the final selection process.
Under the leadership of Kagame, Rwandans in 2003 voted a new Constitution which gave women a minimum of 30 percent seats at all decision-making levels.
Other previous recipients of the award are Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Senegal’s Wade, who both won it in 2005. Created in 1996, FAS, also known in French as Femmes Africa Solidarity, is an independent organisation which acts as a communications link between African women and women representatives at national and international level.