As the world prepares to mark the International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8, Rwanda’s preparations are already in full gear.
The Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, Dr Jeanne d’ Arc Mujawamariya, yesterday revealed that public sensitization campaigns will be carried out to educate citizens about the dangers and repercussions of Gender Based Violence (GBV).
“The campaigns will begin on the 28th of this month, coinciding with Umuganda (community work) day. We have planned that after the works, local leaders will hold discussions with residents on this year’s theme so that people contribute ideas that will help fight against violence,” Mujawamariya told The New Times, in an interview at her offices in Kimihurura.
This year’s celebrations will be held under the theme “Women and Men: United to end violence against women,” and will specifically focus on women, who form the biggest number of GBV victims.
“In most cases, men are the culprits and women become victims of this vice. So during these countrywide discussions, emphasis will be put on issues related to GBV such as, how to fight it and its types,” she added.
Events to mark the day will be held in Nyagatare District in the Eastern Province, which ranks among districts with the highest rates of GBV.
Sexual, physical and psychological violence are among the major types of GBV that contribute to the high crime rate in the country.
2008 statistics show that a total of 2,051 defilement cases, 406, physically assaulted and 388, raped. There is also a gap in the percentages that have not been reported to police.
Mujawamariya however adds that the figures are going down annually and she is optimistic that the national sensitisation drive will help lower the crime rate.
“At the cell levels we have instituted committees responsible for fighting GBV and observatory committees that were initiated by government to ensure that all citizens fully exercise their rights,” she added.
The gender ministry is also determined to empower women economically and intellectually as a means of eradicating GBV. According to Mujawamariya, if women are empowered, they can quickly identify and report such cases as they will be able to understand the law clearly.
The International Women’s Day is a global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women. Rwanda has celebrated it for the last 34 years.