Women’s Month: Rwandan Youth discuss ‘Gender Equality’

A group of youth stands in a cycle to share their opinions on the issue of gender equality, at Mfura Arts Kimironko, on International Women’s Day. / Mary Ingabire

Most times when there is a conversation on gender equality, or even when it comes to policy formulation, the youth tend to be left out, or they do not actively participate. However, when given a platform, the youth have interesting views and inputs.

On International Women’s Day, Mfura Arts held a stirring discussion on what gender equality means to the Rwandan youth today.

In partnership with Acts of Gratitude, Social Enterprise Academy and Enterprise Africa, Mfura Arts gathered a group of Rwandan youth at their office in Kimironko to share and learn from each other’s opinions.

The ceremony started off with individual introductions and then an icebreaker of each person thinking of an important or special female in their life.

Afterwards, Violet Businge, the facilitator, asked volunteers to share about who they had thought of, with the whole group.

Participants mentioned the Secretary-General of Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Louise Mushikiwabo, as their special woman because she is a diligent leader.

Kate Sebahanji speaks about her perception on gender quality during the dialogue over the weekend. / Courtesy

As the young people continued to share about their special woman, it was evident that the majority were in awe of their mothers’ strengths and sacrifices.

The activity was then followed by a poem, which was recited by a young woman. The poem that was in Kinyarwanda, and accompanied by a folk song, the poet thanks her mother for the nine months she carried her through the pain, and for being a pillar during the most difficult situations.

Next on the agenda was the awaited discussion on ‘Gender Equality’, where the prompt was for each individual to share their thoughts on what the concept is about.

Gender equality refers to the fact that women and men, with diverse passion and experience, support each other through all the allocated responsibilities. I believe that gender balance is not superiority or minority, but instead is complementarity,’ said Molly Sebaganji, from Imfura Arts for Peace.

Another participant said that gender equality strives to expose the fact that women can do what men do and vice versa.

To another, the concept of gender equality means that both sexes are equal, and each are less or greater than the other.

Clemance Ntahimana, from Theatre Museke Weya, and co-founder of Double CC Technical Solutions, said: “Our parents should be sensitised to treat their children equally, before we discuss their issue globally.”

“Women have contributed a lot to the society, both in the past and they still keep making great contributions into their homes and to the country. Thus, it is important to give women an equal voice in households and societies they live in,” said Peline Mudahunga, a fashion designer.

Both young men and women held opinions and agreed to disagree. Either way, it was refreshing to hear young Rwandan men utter that they believe women can do it all.

As the discussion continued, one young man emphasised that they should not confuse movement, with progress and instead should focus on the advantages and disadvantages of gender equality.

When asked to share what examples of gender inequalities there are, two young men said that there are less girls enrolled in the sciences, and that they think there is a fear-based mindset among Rwandan girls.

This belief seemed to generate controversy within the group as the young women didn’t agree that it’s a gender inequality issue, but rather a question of choice.

At this point of the discussion, this hot controversial topic was cut short by the facilitator who shared that gender inequality looks like how some Rwandan parents still raise their girls as marriage material only and do not believe in them to be more than that. More so, some girls still lack education or other opportunities because of their sex.

This was the kind of gender inequality that the young women asked the young men to look at.

Nonetheless, the event was concluded by a talent show where the young women showcased different items such as poems, fashion styles and singing. It was an activity to celebrate girl’s success stories.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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