Members of Parliament were yesterday urged to increase their awareness campaigns across the country to ensure that citizens understand the role of gender equality in fast-tracking national development.
The message was delivered by different facilitators at a training organised for the legislators, which started yesterday. It ends today.
The lawmakers are expected to gain deeper understanding on how gender equality can be promoted in communities across the country in order to fast-track development and improve the welfare of Rwandans.
Donah Kamashazi, a gender expert and one of the facilitators, told the legislators that there is need for targeted efforts to address the prevailing poor mindset towards gender equality.
She said that gender equality needs to be explained in a way that women don’t feel as if they are victims of men’s oppression while the latter also don’t have to see themselves as a sort of perpetrators.
“We need to give real information. We shouldn’t blame men or women for already established social construction,” she said, explaining that it can give a good result if it is explained that no need to see some as victims and others as perpetrators.
She added; “With gender equality, no one loses; we all benefit”.
A national policy on gender equality adopted in 2010 has sought to uproot all gender based inequalities in society.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, Nadine Umutoni Gatsinzi, told the lawmakers that the country’s policy on gender equality has singled out four approaches that need to be used by all sectors in policies and programmes.
They include gender mainstreaming in all programmes, affirmative action to promote women, human capacity building to achieve gender mainstreaming, and including men on board to fight gender imbalances.
She told the MPs that future efforts to educate citizens about gender equality will require serious involvement of men because their role remains important in achieving a better understanding of the issues.
“We have seen that it creates conflicts when you empower women without engaging men in the process,” she said.
In order to implement the policy on gender equality, the official said that strategies have been laid, including putting in place measures to ensure that women are specifically considered in poverty reduction programmes, increasing participation of both men and women in decision making at the decentralised levels of governance, and keeping girls in schools, among others.
Under the policy, men and women have also been urged to equally participate in protecting the environment, including ownership and use of land resources.
Most MPs at the training agreed that efforts need to be made to educate Rwandans about the benefits of gender equality, starting from the family level.
MP Euthalie Nyirabega said that social transformation begins with behaviour change and urged for a change of mindset among many Rwandans if gender equality is to be achieved.
She urged members of society at all levels to make sure that men and women are given equal opportunities.
“Sensitisation needs to go beyond general campaigns; we need to start raising awareness at household level,” she said.
MP John Ruku-Rwabyoma advised that gender-sensitive education needs to target those who are young because they are the ones who will play a bigger role in building a fairer society in the future.
“Let’s teach young ones at a tender age the benefits of gender equity,” he said.
Among other topics, the MPs’ training has included how to analyse gender mainstreaming in national development programmes, national policy on gender and how to implement it as well as how MPs can play their role in this area.
The training has also focused on how the principle of gender equality has been considered in the country’s seven-year National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) among other development programmes for the country.