Last week’s cabinet reshuffle took place on the eve of Women’s Day – March 8. Whether the timing was by coincidence or by design, there is more evidence to clearly point to the latest reshuffle as having leaned in favour of supporting women emancipation and/or appreciation of their contribution to socio-economic development.
Consider this: out of seven ministers who were dropped, four were men and three were women. Even then only one, Valerie Nyirahabineza, was replaced, the other two, Angelina Muganza and Patricia Hajabakiga having seen the restructuring result in their portfolios being scrapped.
Yet that is the weakest link between the reshuffle and its favour towards women.
Out of the five newcomers (Monique Mukaruliza, Agnes Kalibata, Louise Mushikiwabo, Linda Bihire and Théoneste Mutsindashyaka), four of them, 80 percent are women.
But the biggest support for women was reserved for promotions. Three out of three promotions, (Daphrose Gahakwa, Monique Nsanzabaganwa and Rose Mary Museminari), or 100 percent if you want, are women.
And that was not all.
Of the six transfers (and the related inconveniences), only one, 17 percent, affected a woman.
The only area where men carried the day was in the three ministries created, Cabinet Affairs, East African Community and Youth. Two of these went to males, though it becomes insignificant when you consider that the number of full ministers, PM included, rose by three from 19 to 22. This entirely benefited women since the percentage of total women composition rose from 30 to 36.
The Rwandan constitution boldly stipulates that in all public service sectors, women will occupy not less than 30 percent of positions. You want to think the President was not comfortable with having their ministerial number tied onto the mandatory 30 percent.
Having said that, the President went beyond the act of raising women representation in the cabinet and chipped in a word as well. During the swearing-in ceremony of the new ministers in parliament two days ago, he made a comment that might easily have passed as light to some, but might have meant how insightful he is on women potential to others.
Having witnessed how the task of uttering the words that make the swearing-in statement can prove rigorous, he reassured the audience on one thing. That we should not think those women ministers’ actions were going to follow the softness in their feminine voices. It was a statement of confidence in his women troops, hinged on the generally positive performance of the economy ever since the choice of involving more of them in running affairs of the country was entrenched in the constitution.