Local government women network launched

Members of newly established Rwanda Network of Women in Local Government have been challenged to play a key role in addressing challenges afflicting society, to ensure families lead better lives.

The call was made by Espérance Nyirasafari, the minister for Gender and Family Promotion, during the launch of the network, a capacity building mechanism to empower women and girls in local governments for peer learning, mentorship, capacity building and delivery.

The event took place at the Kigali Convention Centre (KCC) yesterday.

The network is an initiative by Rwanda Association of Local Government Authorities (RALGA) and would serve as an internal mechanism for members to build capacity for effective delivery and accountability but not a parallel structure being established, according to officials.

Speaking at the event, Minister Nyirasafari hailed RALGA for the initiative and commended it as a step forward in terms of women empowerment which would complement existing structures and frameworks.

She noted that the mechanism will complement efforts by the National Women Council, especially in area of capacity building of women.

“This Local Government Women Network should play a significant role in addressing challenges affecting society, especially stunting and malnutrition amongst young children, family conflicts and gender based violence especially under age pregnancies among others,” she said.

The National Strategy for Transformation emphasises the vision of self-reliant citizens in secure and stable family.

Speaking to media after the launch, Local Government Minister Francis Kaboneka welcomed the network and commended RALGA for its contribution in local government capacity building efforts,  adding that the Government was committed to supporting the initiative.

“This is especially geared towards addressing human security issues and local government stability for citizen-centered delivery, with the particular role of women in local governments,” he noted.

Founding members are all women in local government positions, from the City of Kigali to the cell levels.

An all-inclusive seven member committee chaired by Kigali City Mayor, Marie-Chantal Rwakazina, was elected for a six-month period.

Their core mandate is to develop rules governing the mechanism, establish its structures, and action plan.

“Women should consider their particular nature and cultural values to contribute to their leadership responsibilities. They need to be real agents of transformation in local governments and to remain the real heart of local government as they are hearts of their households,” noted Rwakazina

Ladislas Ngendahimana, the Secretary General of RALGA, announced the creation of a gender desk within the institution to support the operationalisation of the mechanism.

The Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dorothea Groth, expressed the embassy’s commitment to supporting Rwanda in good governance and decentralisation and especially in achieving SDG5 on women and girls empowerment for gender equality.

Rwanda was ranked in second position out of 52 African countries on the African Development Bank (AfDB) Gender Equality Index1, and the country is number one worldwide in women representation in Parliament.

RALGA is an association of Local Government Authorities in Rwanda responsible for local government capacity building, advocacy and representation, and was established in 2003.