Kigali has been chosen to host the Africa Office for the Women Political Leaders (WPL) Global Forum, a global network of female politicians whose mission is to increase both the number and influence of women in political positions of leadership.
The office was inaugurated on Saturday through a partnership between the Government of Rwanda and Mo Ibrahim Foundation and will be mandated to coordinate activities of the organization across the continent.
The launch brought together women leaders in Rwanda, WPL members, and different female political leaders across the continent and beyond.
Sylvana Koch-Merin, the president and founder of WPL Global Forum, said Rwanda was chosen as the host for WPL Africa Office as a result of its valuable role in promoting gender in political leadership.
“Rwanda is the perfect place for dreaming big and for working to make the dreams come true and I would like to really express a heartfelt thank you to the Government of Rwanda for this support[ to host WPL Africa Office]. It will be a good time to discuss with Rwanda, as a country that has emerged as the champion of women in politics,” she said.
The mission in Africa seeks to give special focus to WPL’s activities on the continent and to continue the initiative’s efforts of building new communities of knowledge for women political leaders across Africa.
Globally, according to Koch-Merin, 93 per cent of the world’s heads of state are men, around 85 per cent the members of governments are men, while 76 per cent of parliamentarians are men.
She said, “There is a lot work to do and still possibly a big dream until we come to the paradigm. It is only logical, let’s continue to dream big and work hard for it”
Donatille Mukabalisa, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies welcomed the initiative’s setting up of the continental office in Kigali saying that this is a strong recognition of women leaders’ valuable contribution to society.
She said; “We are honored that our involvement in all fields and at the leadership level is a considerable asset for a social, professional and economic perspective because women can only disrupt our world for the better”.
With 64 per cent of members of the Lower House women, Rwanda has the highest female representation of any parliament world over.
Mukabalisa attributed women’s participation in not only exposing societies as a whole to different perspectives, ideas and solutions that can lead to substantial benefits, but also in contributing to change of mindsets regarding gender’s roles and attributions.
“Indeed, in our country, there is political will from the national leadership that appreciates men and women’s equal capabilities and promotes equally core opportunities in achieving sustainable development for their country and the welfare of their communities. As leaders, let’s continue to find new and innovative ways to sustain and accelerate the progress of gender equality and women empowerment in the world,” she added.
The Women Political Leaders Global Forum (WPL) comprises different chapters, including Women in Parliaments (WIP), Women Governmental Leaders (WGL), Women European Leaders (WEL), and Women Mayors International (WMI).
As the only forum reaching out to all female political leaders on an international level, WPL endeavors to find ways to address global challenges by using the collective strength and ability of women in positions of political leadership across the world.