The First Lady, Mrs Jeannette Kagame, has paid moving tribute to Rwandan women for their role in the country development agenda.
Mrs Kagame was yesterday speaking at the national Women’s Day celebrations in Shyira Sector in Nyabihu District.
International Women’s Day is dedicated to the continued efforts to campaign for gender parity and global celebration of the achievements of women in society.
“As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we also take the time to reflect and celebrate great achievements accomplished by Rwandan women,” Mrs Kagame said.
“We remember the commendable strides that have made Rwanda one of the pioneers in championing efforts that promote and advocate rights for women and girls.”
She explained how women played a commendable role in the rebuilding of the nation in the aftermath of the Genocide against the Tutsi, saying women then did not just sit and bemoan at the fact that they had become widows but rather took a mantle of family and public leadership to drive the country from the ashes to where it is today.
She noted that, through hard work and dedication, women in Rwanda have helped the country cement its place in history as a country that not only takes pride but sets standard in promoting and advocating for women’s causes.
It is easy to identify how women have been integral to the national development agenda, with public policy providing for gender mainstreaming, officials say.
For instance, the constitution provides that women must constitute at least 30 percent of the leadership pool.
Rwanda boasts a record 64 per cent representation of women in Parliament, while more than 45 per cent of the Cabinet are women.
“It is through the support and encouragement of the Government that women have continued to flourish in these new roles,” Mrs Kagame said.
Women’s Month, events
Esperance Nyirasafari, the minister for gender and family promotion, said a series of events are scheduled throughout the country in March—a month that has been set apart for activities aimed at further empowering women.
Nyirasafari said that some of the activities will include; educating women on a number of issues that still affect communities and need a woman’s role such as use of family planning methods, education, early childhood development initiatives and sanitation.
Other planned activities include savings awareness campaigns, projects planning and financial literacy.
Francoise Uwumukiza, the chairperson of the National Women’s Council, urged women representatives (locally identified as ‘Ba Mutimawurugo’) to continue playing an influential role in pushing for savings awareness campaigns, projects planning and financial literacy among women for the wellbeing of families.
As of last year, National Women’s Council reported that child birth-rate per family had reduced from six children to 4.5 children per family, emphasising that the journey is still long to ensure desired family planning policy of having at most three children per family.
The First Lady urged women and men to take part in these activities for shared benefits of families and the country.
Mrs Kagame hailed development partners and government institutions involved in the promotion of women and girls empowerment.
“Let’s put our efforts in campaigns that not only realise the importance of supporting women, but that of women and men working alongside each other for the betterment of our people, our country and subsequently the world,” she said.
As part of the celebration, the First Lady gave out 52 cows to 52 vulnerable families in Nyabihu District in a campaign to help them fight malnutrition and poverty.
The 2017 theme for International Women’s Day, on March 8, focused on “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.”
The UN Resident Coordinator, Lamin Manneh, echoed Mrs Kagame’s comments, noting that, even though there is a lot to celebrate as regards Rwanda’s push for women empowerment, there is still a long way to go for the country to reach UN’s Planet 50-50 goal.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in his message for this year’s Women’s Day, noted that women’s rights are human rights “but in these troubled times, as our world becomes more unpredictable and chaotic, the rights of women and girls are being reduced, restricted and reversed.”
“Empowering women and girls is the only way to protect their rights and make sure they can realise their full potential,” he said.