GENDER MONITORING BODY SPURS COUNTY’S DEVELOPMENT

Gender equality has been a priority of the government of Rwanda since 1994 and with a new constitution of 2003, the concept of gender equality and monitoring was firmly entrenched. Basing on the commitment statement, the government formed the Gender Monitoring Office (GMO), which started operations in October 2008 to support and monitor government strategies, policies and laws. The New Time’s Godfrey Ntagungira talked to Chief Gender Monitor, Odda Gasinzigwa (Pictured) for an insight.

Gender equality has been a priority of the government of Rwanda since 1994 and with a new constitution of 2003, the concept of gender equality and monitoring was firmly entrenched.

Basing on the commitment statement, the government formed the Gender Monitoring Office (GMO), which started operations in October 2008 to support and monitor government strategies, policies and laws. The New Time’s Godfrey Ntagungira talked to Chief Gender Monitor, Odda Gasinzigwa (Pictured) for an insight.

Today Rwanda is the first country with highest number of female parliamentarians of over 56 percent of women members of the chamber of deputies which makes Rwanda the first country worldwide to have the biggest number of women in parliament and the third country with women in decision making organization according to the gender equity index.

The government recognized that in order to accelerate and sustain efforts in promoting gender equality, empowerment of women, and elimination of gender based violence GBV, A robust framework had to be put in place not only to provide strategic guidance, monitoring, evaluation but also to effectively communicate progress and continuously challenge actors to consistently focus on national gender equality aspirations.

Rwanda has expressed its commitment to promote gender equality through national and international arena by establishment and ratification of relevant instruments. This commitment resulted into the development of national instruments that recognize gender as a crosscutting issue. 

The crosscutting nature of gender is highlighted in all the national legal and planning frameworks including the Constitution, the Vision 2020, the EDPRS and the national gender policy.

Within the framework of Vision 2020, for Rwanda to achieve gender equality and equity, Rwanda will continuously update and adapt its laws on gender. It supports education for all, eradicate all forms of discrimination and gender based violence, fight against poverty and practice a positive discrimination policy in favor of women.

Gender will be integrated as a cross-cutting issue in all development policies and strategies.

One year review on EDPRS implementation 2008 recognized some efforts by some sectors, and revealed that gaps still exist regarding to gender sensitive reporting in all sectors.

This is most likely due to lack of capacity within sectors regarding gender mainstreaming, analysis and monitoring and evaluation. The reporting guidelines for joint sector review paid little or inadequate attention to gender disaggregated indicators.

We (Rwandans) have made a step a head towards gender equality, Gender Monitoring Office was established in conformity with article 185 of the National Constitution of Rwanda.

Again I am proud to say that Rwanda is one of the few countries across the world that have selectively borrowed from their culture and history the best development concepts and ideas and integrated them in our national development agendas.

The gender monitoring office has a mandate which is to monitor progress towards gender equality and equity with aim to ensure the fundamental principles of gender are respected in all organs at governmental, private, non governmental and religious levels It observes also the implementation of international agreements and programs to ensure the respect of gender principles as well as fighting against the gender based injustice and violence
Our general objective is to contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable development by generating gender baseline situation, for development of a monitoring and accountability system to ensure equitable contribution to and distribution of national resources for men and women, as well as respect of human rights.

NEED OF ANALYSIS
Despite the strong government commitment to gender promotion with both national and international instruments in place, in the process we identified that there is still lack of a monitoring and accountably system to trace progress and impact of the gender mainstreaming process.

The evaluation results of the first generation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy in 2006 (PRSP) revealed the following major challenges and weaknesses and among them include the non-systematic integration of gender in policies, programmes, laws and projects at the operational level.

The performance indicators related to gender were not sufficiently developed coupled with the insufficient gender disaggregated data in all areas and lower capacity of institutions in gender mainstreaming, analysis, monitoring and reporting.

As a way forward to successfully mainstream gender into EDPRS and other international instruments, it was recommended to all institutions to develop gender related indicators for each sector as a basis for follow-up and evaluation in the EDPRS annual progress reports and also each sector must work out an operational plan with key gender indicators and a clear monitoring and evaluation system.

RELEVANCE OF THE PROJECT

The issue of lack or insufficient gender disaggregated data was highlighted as a barrier for poverty reduction in a way that it does not facilitate the result based planning, focused policy development and budgeting process for equitable national resources distribution and management as well as respect of human rights.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

First of all, the GMO is constitutional body (see article 185 of Rwanda constitution) and was established by the organic law No…. of 2007 with legal personality (see article No3). The legal framework provides clearly the mandate and powers of the GMO.

OWNERSHIP AND PARTICIPATION

The issues related to gender mainstreaming are on the agenda of the government through different instruments such vision 2020 and EDPRS where gender is cited as cross cutting in all development sectors. During the elaboration of EDPRS, sectors were requested to demonstrate with clear indicators on how gender will be captured, checklists were provided to guide sectors and coordination mechanism were established though gender cluster. 

GMO ACHIEVENETS
 Within just a few days of existence GMO has registered a number of achievements, ranging from internal institutional capacities, to local and global partnerships in away to change in away gender equality is perceived and practiced.

It was identified that for effective monitoring, evaluation and communication results on gender mainstreaming and combat against gender based violence, its very crucial to have vivid and measurable data, in response something like partnership was to be formed and its in this very context the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, and National Institute of Statistics to create a gender statistics framework.

Gender Monitoring Office is confident that this new proactive engagement will mean that all subsequent national surveys will have gender sensitive data which will facilitate the EDPRS monitoring and as a result assure gender responsive policy analysis, planning, budgeting and reporting in all sectors.

Furthermore, some sectors have taken further steps to mainstream gender: MINECOFIN in partnership with UNIFEM and MIEGEPROF has established the gender responsive budgeting project to support central and local government on how to integrate gender in budgeting process.

On other hand, GMO has entered into partnership with NISR on how to use collect gender disaggregated data and so far a national stakeholders’ meeting (public, private, civil society, research and high learning institutions) was organized to discuss the current status, challenges and way forward. An action plan was designed with clear roles and responsibilities of each and every stakeholder.

We also have a partnership with ministry of local government which facilitates us to engage local governments (districts) in mainstreaming gender into District development plans and performance contract, this partnership also help us to reach out to Mayors on the integration of gender. Partnerships will continue and capacity will be provided at district level.

GENDER ISSUE IN LAND REGISTRATION

The current land law gives equal rights to both men and women in terms of accessing, owning and using land. In Rwanda we believe that land is the most important resource for the big number in rural population, the office was swift to work with land reform process through a partnership with National land centre, and our office is currently monitoring how the land registration process is addressing gender concerns in all districts.

At this day we have been tracking the process in 12 districts, where community level dialogue sessions have been held around land and inheritance laws and other issues such as stability of families through marriage.

These dialogues enable the communities to understand their rights and responsibilities, including the importance of empowering and protecting women and children through resource access and tenure security.

In a related development the right to inheritance, the Rwandan legislation grants equal rights to women and men to inherit, in equitable shares of their parents properties.

There is this possibility of using land titles to access credit from financial institutions to finance business, commercial farming and other household developments was also clarified.

Through a number of open dialogue sessions with the communities it resulted a check list of key issues and considerations for the ongoing land registration process to effectively address gender issues, this checklist was adopted and is being used as a guide by the national land centre to train its staff involved in the land registration process and to integrate gender issues into the process.

PREVENTION OF GENDER BASED VIOLENCE

The government of has in place initiatives to fight and eradicate gender based violence and out office has established a tracking system for monitoring progress and impact of the existing interventions through the development of key GBV indicators, monitoring and evaluation system including a database and road map for GBV prevention measures and responses. Gender Based Violence.

Police has demonstrated strong commitment in fighting and preventing GBV through community policing by establishing GBV committees. The creation of one stop centers at national and district level will support the eradication and prevention of the GVB.

DOCUMENTATION

The GMO produced a 15 years national evaluation report on the implementation of 12 critical areas of the Beijing Declaration and platform for action 1995. These documentations have already motivated gender activists and mainstreaming actors in various domains to set new targets and have also inspired regional and international interest groups to learn from our local success story.

Information on good practices was collected right from lowest administrative unit to national level which resulted into recommendations which are currently being integrated into district development planning through the performance contracts.

The gender monitoring office was able to compile a follow up of Beijing one of the national mechanisms for gender equality and the advancement of women’s human rights.

The office saw it important to disseminate this compilation at all administration and the justice sector in order to increase their awareness and also trainings were held in order to facilitate the stakeholders to widen their knowledge of the laws especially international conventions that promote the rights and protection of women’s human rights.

GENDER MONITORING OFFICE VISION

Our immediate concern for the office is to build institutional capacity to achieve and sustain results in the area of gender-responsive policy analysis, programming, budgeting, monitoring and GBV combat. We look forward to put more emphasis on empowering communities to appreciate gender principles and learn from best practices to inspire others.

An important aim is to ensure that stakeholders recognize and buy into the use of gender-disaggregated data, continually review gaps and challenges and understand that gender-disaggregated data does not automatically mean added costs, but certainly added value to the development process in Rwanda.

I believe ensuring access to gender related information is key and the gender office and determined to continue to intensify on carrying out research on various gender and GBV related issues, a gender research think tank is soon to be established and GMO has a communication strategy to work with media to ensure improved understanding of gender concepts at all levels and ensure dissemination of lessons learned and ensure gender responsive reporting through the media.

Rwanda has for long been a party to many United Nations and regional human rights conventions and following the 1994 Tutsi genocide signed a number of conventions and reformed its legislation and Constitution to eradicate all forms of discrimination including sex and gender based discrimination.

I strongly believe that the four aspects which include legislation, finance and budget, education and affirmative action policies are considered key in illustrating the country’s commitment to promoting gender equity. This makes it more evident that Rwanda has tried to improve in all the four key aspects.

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