The rising of Rwandan women

Books, articles, plays and perhaps songs will be composed regarding the months of September and October 2008. They will entail stories that shook social structures globally, unfolding in a span of less than two months. Publishing houses will profit the failing banks; the comedians, professors, poets, journalists and other general writers will reap from their benefits.
Basket weaving by local women in Rwanda
Basket weaving by local women in Rwanda

Books, articles, plays and perhaps songs will be composed regarding the months of September and October 2008.

They will entail stories that shook social structures globally, unfolding in a span of less than two months. Publishing houses will profit the failing banks; the comedians, professors, poets, journalists and other general writers will reap from their benefits.

The issues will include: ripple effects  being felt beyond the shores of America into the larger global community,  the imminent election of the first Black President in the US, the resignation of President Mbeki of South Africa, as well as the latter’s semi-successful  experimentation with “quiet diplomacy”  aimed at bringing  President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsivangarai to a ‘Kenya style’ political “power sharing.”

But more interestingly to Rwandans, historians will inscribe the record of Rwanda as the first country in the world to elect a majority of women parliamentarians. 

One may wonder why it has always been considered sort of “a surprise” to have women leaders.

This is largely due to the education system, social myths and cultural practices embedded in dominant patriarchal world-views that continue to be perpetuated in the postcolonial Rwandan society.

At the International level, it is fascinating to observe the rising involvement of women in leadership positions and the increasing recognition of the centrality of women in human development. 

This has been exemplified in the political campaigns in the United States where both Presidential Candidates, more so Senator Barack Obama than Senator McCain, have repetitively attributed their success to their mothers’ upbringing and recognize the positive influence of their wives. 

In Rwanda, there is an increase in acknowledging women’s social involvement, which expands beyond the traditionally defined kitchen-space.

Her voice echoes beyond the local villages and towns to the international arena, defending her human rights into existence, shaping policies for her youth and creating a better world for the unborn.

Her intellectual acumen, skills and physical strength increasingly become evident through her ability to equally compete in various fields such as governance, business, civil and electrical engineering and other sectors that remain largely male dominated. Even though Rwandan society is still far from attaining gender parity and fairness, one can still applaud the numerous efforts of activists who have struggled to reshape our perception of women within Rwandan society.

It is our duty to appreciate, support and perpetuate these positive struggles in order to have a better society.
Go on woman of a thousand hills, it’s your time to shine. Despite the bloody burden you carry on your back, you are reaching for the hope embedded in your unique nature.

Newscasters will marvel at your graceful ways, your enemies will be envious of your courage, and your admirers will take pride in your progress.

When the authors write about this eventful year, your elegant style will have secured you a place in History.  Millions will read about you and follow your examples: you have set a good example to your neighbours.

Your mushanana will single you out when you represent your own, and thousands will follow you home to visit the gorillas and buy your duseke. In and out of mother Rwanda, your children play with a smile, trusting in your comfortable arms as they recall those first nine months within your womb and your care in their first days in the world.

Climb to the highest peaks of your mountains and prove your critics wrong.  Amarembo of Rwanda are wide open to your pleasure, the forgotten and voiceless place their hope under your care.

The writer is a Rwandan Masters student in Pan African Studies at Syracuse University, New York. mwame2000@yahoo.com

 

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