MPs vow to back gender sensitive laws

Members of Parliament during the training in Kimihurura. Sam Ngendahimana.

Members of Parliament in the Lower House yesterday completed a two-day training on gender equality with a resolve to promote gender neutral policies and enact more laws in line with that commitment.

The training, which was offered by different experts on gender equality issues on Thursday and Friday, helped lawmakers deepen their understanding of how gender equality can be promoted in communities across the country in order to fast-track development and improve the welfare of Rwandans.

The Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Donatille Mukabalisa, said the training helped the legislators to understand existing challenges on the way citizens understand gender equality and how policymakers can do better in enforcing policies that give equal chances to men and women.

“The training provided us with knowledge that will help us to fulfil our responsibilities of enacting laws and controlling government works,” she said.

At the end of the workshop, the legislators agreed to work more with other institutions to promote gender equality, continue cooperation with other institutions to fight gender-based violence (GBV), and request some public servants’ training on gender equality.

“There is no doubt that challenges we have been shown in the area of gender equality will be resolved. It’s important that we understand the reasons behind the challenges in order to find solutions for them,” the Speaker told fellow lawmakers at the end of the training yesterday.

Among other topics, the MPs’ training 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 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.

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 on Thursday 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 told the MPs.

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.

At the end of the training, the MPs agreed that efforts need to be undertaken to educate Rwandans about the benefits of gender equality, starting from the family level.