Institutionalization of Gender Accountability: Key to Sustaining Rwanda’s Progress on Gender Equality – Gender Monitoring Office

After 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, the Government of Rwanda positioned gender equality and women’s empowerment at the forefront of national and sustainable development. Gender inclusion created opportunities for those who were historically discriminated and denied access to their human rights. The adoption of gender friendly legal, policy and institutional frameworks greatly contributed to institutionalization of gender equality across development sectors.

Caption:The number of girls and women in TVETs has progressively increased over the years, hence helping them to equally compete at the job market

BY GENDER MONITORING OFFICE  

After 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, the Government of Rwanda positioned gender equality and women’s empowerment at the forefront of national and sustainable development. Gender inclusion created opportunities for those who were historically discriminated and denied access to their human rights. The adoption of gender friendly legal, policy and institutional frameworks greatly contributed to institutionalization of gender equality across development sectors.

The enactment and enforcement of the law on state finances and property which takes the gender balance as a fundamental principle for state finances management accelerated the institutionalization of gender equality and this has shaped the contribution of public entities towards a gender responsive planning and budgeting approach.

The Gender Monitoring Office (GMO) as constitutional accountability mechanism managed to undertake different monitoring initiatives geared towards institutionalizing gender accountability. This was realized through gender auditing, gender profiling, assessments, and community dialogues.  

The monitoring indicates Rwanda’s remarkable delivery on gender equality across sectors and at different levels. Today in Rwanda, male and female are equally enjoying their rights as embedded in different legal frameworks right from Rwanda Constitution which highly positions gender equality through its foundational principles.

Rwanda’s delivery on gender equality and women’s empowerment positioned the country as a global model country for promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women.   The last World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, 2016 ranked Rwanda fifth globally for closing gender gaps in various spheres including economic participation, access to opportunities, educational attainment, health and political empowerment. Additionally, Rwanda leads the world with the highest share of female parliamentarians at 64% from 17 % in 1997. 

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Rwanda is also a global leader in HeForShe campaign, a global men engage campaign that invites people around the world to support the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment. The HeForShe campaign is strongly supported by HE Paul Kagame, the President of the Republic of Rwanda, who was selected among the ten heads of State taking upper action for gender equality in their countries.  Within the HeForShe campaign framework, Rwanda committed to bridging gender digital divide in ICT and attain parity in access and usage, enhancing girls’ enrollment in TVET to boost their employability and eradicating Gender-Based Violence in all its forms. This global campaign coupled with undertaken commitments have influenced mindset change vis-à-vis gender equality in the country. 

Furthermore, Gender equality gains are visible in all development sectors. Starting with the Education sector, Primary Net enrollment rate is now at 97.4 for girls compared to 96.3% for boys contrary to the past years  where families less valued girls education. The number of female enrolled in TVET also stands at 41.8% for female and 58.2% for male and female participation in higher leaning institutions reached 42.4% thus allowing more women to embrace employment opportunities.

Contrary to the situation before 1994 where women had no rights on land and assets and where women and girls were denied inheritance rights, today, a tremendous shift in the legal and policy setting have greatly recognized women’s land  and inheritance rights. As a result, 26% of women own land and 54% of women to co-own land with their spouses. Women’s access to land has tremendously contributed to increased control over productive resources and access to loans as they use it as collaterals in banks, which consequently impacted to their financial capacity. 

In addition and as a result of unlocking the economic potential of Rwandan women and girls, Rwanda witnessed a noticeable decrease of women’s financial exclusion from 32.2% in 2012 to 13.6% in 2016. Women and youth’s financial inclusion through the village Credit and Saving Scheme (Umurenge SACCO) has also been prioritized by the Government. All these efforts contributed to women’s access to financial services.  A series of recent initiatives have also been taken to address disparity among female and male in access to credit. We may recall that before the liberation struggle, women were not legally permitted to own bank accounts.

From a governance perspective, Rwanda’s women have played a pivotal role in the country’s political development well represented at different leadership position levels from local to national levels. With the constitutional requirement of a minimum quota of at least 30% of women in decision making organs and apart from 64% in Parliament lower chamber, women share stands at 34,6% in Senate, 40% in cabinet, 50% in judiciary, 50% as provincial Governors and 43.6% as active members of  district advisory councils. The participation of women in leadership has provided space for women to echo their voices and also fast track the implementation of gender equality commitments.

Within the health sector, health workforce and infrastructure development, community based health insurance scheme, innovative data collection tools including Rapid SMS for emergency labour and tracking the Maternal and Child health have led to considerable decrease of maternal and infant mortality rates. For example, the maternal mortality ratio has significantly declined to 210 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2014-2015 down from 1071 in 2,000 and child mortality dropped to 19 per 1,000 from 72 per 1,000 live births in last ten years. Fertility rate currently stands at 4.2 children per woman dropping from 6.1 children in 2005.

Important to underscore is that development can never be attained or sustained when women continue to face discrimination and abuse from societies in which they live. The Government of Rwanda has maintained a strong stance in the fight against all forms of Gender Based Violence. Rwanda strongly addresses and eliminates gender based violence as a matter of security priority, and the country established holistic and community based model on GBV prevention and response. A good example is the establishment of Isange One Stop Centers that provide holistic 24 hour services to victims of GBV under one roof, so as to avoid re-victimization, risk of spoiled evidence and delayed justice. There are now 43 operational Isange One Stop Centers across the country.

Despite the highlighted achievements, it’s important to highlight that key challenges including poverty among women, negative patriarchal attitudes and low gender expertise across sectors still affect the levels of gender accountability at different levels. 

To sustain the gains, Rwanda will strongly position gender equality in the VISION 2050 and EDPRS3. Financing for gender equality has to be sustained and scaled-up in the private sector and non- state actors to speed up institutionalization of gender equality at different levels.

The Gender Monitoring Office will also maintain efforts to keep promoting gender accountability through different accountability mechanisms.

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