FEATURED: Women get knowledge boost on hygiene, child malnutrition

The Minister of Defense, General James Kabarebe has tasked women to accelerate their efforts in developing themselves in all aspects as they have all they need to prosper from laws, good leadership and special women consideration.
Participants and government officials take a group photo after the retreat.
Participants and government officials take a group photo after the retreat.

The Minister of Defense, General James Kabarebe has tasked women to accelerate their efforts in developing themselves in all aspects as they have all they need to prosper from laws, good leadership and special women consideration.

General Kabarebe was speaking at the inauguration of a 2-day women retreat in Kigali, which brought together 480 Women Council and cooperatives representatives from sector to national level across the country.

The objective of the retreat is to discuss about the contribution of women to national development as well as women’s individual economic empowerment and creating awareness on role of women in good governance with focus on the upcoming elections for Members of Parliament slated for September 2018 according to the National Women’s Council (NWC).

Min. Kabarebe went through the history of women empowerment in Rwanda. He says that the idea sprouted in 1989 when RPF Inkontanyi was founded, one of which considerations was putting women rights at the fore at all levels. He says that the authors of such a revolution were very young at that time but came up with an original idea without replicating it from anywhere else in the world and now everyone is reaping the fruits of women emancipation and empowerment.

“Now that you have everything you need to prosper, your homework is to strive for economic transformation; everyone bringing in their individual skills and strength to come up with projects and ideas that lift themselves out of poverty. Use at the maximum the opportunities put in place for your welfare,” he argued.

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General Kabarebe takes through participants the journey of development during the retreat.

He stressed that the power of women is so immense and they can achieve anything they aspire for without any limitation, saying that they should not allow anything be it beliefs or cultural norms stand in their way. Specifically, he challenged them to sensitize young girls to join in big number male-dominated careers, mainly sciences and engineering because they can be successful as long as they believe in themselves.

On the other hand, the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Esperance Nyirasafari said for women to have sustainable development, they have to also consider that hygiene and sanitation are a source of prosperity and therefore need to be adequately respetced.

“It is very ironic to go around the street wearing nice clothes, when you left your house messed up everywhere. Child nutrition should as well be given due consideration. Our homes should be devoid of malnutrition and poor hygiene-bred diseases such as diarrhea, and stunting from poor hygiene and unhealthy diet. Experts say that poor hygiene and malnutrition have long-term consequences for the child including intellectual and physical ailments. Therefore, you are tasked to go out and sensitive communities about the good hygiene practices, healthy diet and other related practices,” she argued.

Minister Nyirasafari stressed that all the stakeholders should make sure that the early childhood development program is comprehensible to every family by using the available platforms such as Parents Forums or Umuganda, enabling families to raise strong and healthy children.

Immaculee Ingabire , the president of Transparency Rwanda was among the key speakers invited to give insights at the retreat. In her presentation, she challenged women to make sure they exercise good leadership skills in their families.

On the side of the participants, Mariane Nyirabizeye, NWC committee member in charge of Economic affairs in Mataka Sector/ Gakenke District said that generally Gakenke women understand their role in economic development and that a majority joined saving groups and cooperatives to support each other through savings.. She, however renewed her commitment to sensitize other women on hygiene and nutrition for rapid change.

“I leant from this retreat, I’m going to focus on house to house sensitisation to make sure no single woman is left behind especially in relation to hygiene,” she pledged.

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A cross section of participants during the retreat. All photos by Diane Dushimimana.

Mukashema Vestine, NWC representative in Rugengabari Sector of Burera District said the actual problem that Burera women are suffering from is teenage pregnancies which is putting young girls at risk, the majority dropping out of school and start leading a miserable life as they take care of their newborn.

“In collaboration with other local government bodies, we have started collecting information on all children who are pregnant or gave birth at age below 18. When we get all the data, we shall sit together and analyze case by case and give them individual support. Those who need financial support will get it and those who want to go back to school will also be facilitated as well,” she argued.

At this occasion , the partcipants were also reminded to get prepared for the upcoming elections for MPs for September 2018 and see themselves as candidates ,voters or facilitators at their local election posts

According to the National Women’s Council, it is expected that the retreat would help the participants to understand the responsibilities of women as active agents in the overall economic development of the country, understand how to collaborate with other local government bodies and other development partners in policy making and planning process with reference to the seven-year national strategic plan , verifying that women’s right were taken into consideration in all aspects.

The participants will also understand how to collaborate effectively with NWC Committee members at all levels and learn how to make reports on each and every intervention.

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