A family is a foundation of any community and no effort should be spared to uproot the ills that continue to affect families in Rwanda, according to the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Soline Nyirahabimana.
She was speaking in Gatsibo District on Thursday as Rwanda joined the international community to celebrate the International Day of Families.
According to Nyirahabimana, the biggest challenges that afflict families in Rwanda include teen pregnancies, conflicts, gender based violence, violence committed against children and the child malnutrition, among others.
“A safe family means a safe country,” Nyirahabimana explained, adding that “anyone who does harm to a family destabilises the whole Rwandan society”.
She called for concerted efforts to end social ills like defilement and teen pregnancies which are in most cases committed by adults, at times people under whose care those children are.
"When you defile a child or impregnate a teen, you take their dreams away from them,” she noted.
Minister Nyirahabimana feeding a child in Gatsibo, in celebration of International Day of Families
The day marked the end of a week-long campaign against teenage pregnancies.
During the campaign, 680 teenagers were found pregnant in Gatsibo, and it was established that 140 of those responsible were brought to justice.
Gatsibo, according to the minister, was the third among districts with a high number of teen pregnancies, after Nyagatare and Gasabo, according to Nyirahabimana.
Calling on the parents to break the silence and report the perpetrators, the minister said that even neighbours had a role to report those parents who are adamant to pursue justice for their children.
Jean Damascene Shyirambere, 36, father of two who resides in Karambi Village, Karambi Cell, said the community forums (Umugoroba w’Ababyeyi), where such social ills are openly discussed between community members were important but said few members attend on regular basis.
The forum in their village convenes Tuesdays evening.
“Through the forum, we get to learn how to build unified family units, nutrition and hygiene, among other values, but the number of male parents needs to increase; on average in our village, we get like 50 women and 20 men,” he said.
Proclaimed by United Nations General Assembly in 1993, the International Day of Families is celebrated annually on May 15 as an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.