Only 16 per cent of Public servants who benefited from long-term training in 2018 were women, according to statistics from the Ministry of Public Service and Labour (MIFOTRA).
And among the civil servants who received short-term training, 21 per cent were female.
These figures are in sharp contrast to the fact that Rwandan public service consists 44 per cent female.
Rwanda’s public sector employed an estimated 104,000 people (including over 60,000 teachers) in 2017, according to figures from the ministry.
One of the reasons that the ministry has put forward for the low participation of female public employees in the trainings is that mothers with babies mostly don’t attend them because there is no budget allocated to cater for babies and their minders.
Speaking to The New Times, Rose Rwabuhihi, Chief Gender Monitor at Gender Monitoring Office (GMO), said that when a woman has a baby and there is a training opportunity, the current policy does not favour them because of the additional costs that come with travelling with the baby.
“We need some form of, affirmative action so that the policy governing public institutions is amended such that a woman does not miss out on opportunities only because she is raising a child for the family and the nation. Rather, we should look for ways to support her,” she said.
This was reaffirmed by the Minister for Public Service and Labour, Fanfan Rwanyindo.
Any public servant or employee of any sector, generally, capacity building is key for the advancement of their career.
“It is, therefore, imperative to set up a conducive environment that allows women with babies to benefit from the trainings, thus ensuring equal opportunities for both men and women to significantly contribute to institutional productivity,” Rwanyindo said.
She was recently speaking to Members of Parliament on the budget and national patrimony standing committee, during the discussions on the appropriation to the ministry for the 2019/2020 fiscal year.
“Women who received long-term trainings which are often masters’ degrees and PhDs last year were only 16 per cent, while men accounted for 84 per cent. This situation suggests that there is still a problem in building capacity for women in public service,” she said.
“There is need for all stakeholders to find a more sustainable solution to how such (breast-feeding) trainees can be supported. This will encourage more women with babies to participate in professional capacity building programmes organised at Rwanda Management Institute (RMI) and elsewhere,” she observed.
MP Madina Ndangiza said she believes that women’s low participation in professional training can affect their promotion to decision-making positions.
Rwabuhihi said that “we should also prepare boys so that when they grow up and get married, they are able to take care of a child, cook for the family, take children to school, so that women too can have chances of increased mobility.”
Gaspard Musonera, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Public Service and Labour, said that together with their finance counterparts, they were considering ways women who are hindered from attending training because of lack of facilities to accommodate their children, can be supported.
“We are thinking about how special training facilities can be established to accommodate mothers with babies,” he observed.
Women managerial positions
Meanwhile, Minister Rwanyindo said that among Cabinet ministers, Permanent Secretaries (PSs), women account 47.3 per cent, but the representation drops in the technical positions.
For example, women constitute 19 per cent for heads of public institutions and only take 22.6 per cent at the level of directors general in ministries.
Among the heads of department and other equivalent positions, women’s share is 25.3 per cent, while it’s at 25 per cent for the position of directors of units.
This dismal representation, the minister said, is partly attributed to limited training opportunities for women.
Rwabuhihi said that in order to further participation of female public servants in capacity building, other aspects should be taken into consideration.
Among them, she cited increasing the number of girls in sciences, technology, engineering and technology studies, so that they increase their chances to be professionals and secure more managerial positions.