WOMEN in rural communities have been called upon to be more creative and set up income generating projects in order to attain economic independence.
The call was made during the Rural Women’s Day celebrations in different parts of the country, on Thursday.
In Musanze District, Béatrice Uwamariya, head of the National Women Council-CNJ at the district level noted that the day is in recognition and support of the efforts by the rural women.
She called on society to break the cultural stereotypes which still impede the total attainment of women’s rights including land ownership.
“In the past, rural women did all the domestic chores while men remained the bread winners. We are fighting to seek a redress to this sort of unfairness,’’ Uwamariya said.
The district’s Vice-Mayor in charge of Economic Affairs, Winfred Mbembyemungu urged the women to stand up for their rights and start working hard to uplift their economic status.
Meanwhile, in Karongi District, women commemorated the day by contributing to the ongoing construction of classrooms for the 9-Year Basic Education programme at Groupe Scholaire de Nyegabo in Bwishyura sector.
Men also joined their spouses by carrying bricks and levelling grounds for the buildings.
Speaking to The New Times, Marie-Rose Mukamana said: “We are contributing to an initiative that will eventually benefit our own children. It is important to work together.”
She emphasised that those who do not participate in such programmes are not only frustrating government’s policies but are also ruining their own chances of setting a base for a better future.
“It is unfortunate that some of us never had a chance to attend school, but we can always overturn such situations and predicaments for the purposes of giving our children the opportunity to have a brighter future,” she said.
At Gahogo cell grounds in Nyamabuye sector, Muhanga District, women were encouraged to join cooperatives as a way of improving their social welfare and to avoid the dependency syndrome.
Marie Chantal Uwineza of Gahogo cell, cited gender based violence, sexual abuse and failure to make decisions over family planning as some of the challenges that rural women still face.
She called for continuous support of women empowerment programmes for the purposes of tackling some of the challenges.
The jubilant women discussed their achievements over the past year. These, they said, included transforming agriculture and livestock activities as well as formation of cooperative societies which has accumulated over Rwf2m savings.
Meanwhile, in a separate interview with various women in Gitarama market, most of them were unaware of the day’s celebrations.
Madeline Mukankusi, 70, said: “I would love to know more about the objectives of the celebrations. However, for me I am compelled to find food and sustain myself by selling tobacco.”
Local leaders also said that most rural women have not fully participated in women’s empowerment programmes at the grassroots level and called for more efforts in educating them.
During the ceremony, female artiste, Theresa Nyirabagenzi, also presented her new songs on women empowerment.
Residents in the district commended women for their participation in different domains which they said has raised their status.
The celebrations took place in Ruramba sector.
The residents noted that unlike in the past when women were relegated to the sidelines of development, the current situation is such that they command respect even from their male counterparts and women are regarded as change agents.
They attributed the progress to social education and government efforts aimed at promoting women.
“Women are now considered to be on equal footing with men. And above all, women have increased their incomes through engaging in income generating activities,” said Mathilde Yankurije, a resident of Gabiro Cell.
Another woman Félicité Ntawiyangira of Giseke Cell said: “Women are now at the forefront of managing family property as we are now aware of laws regulating the use of family property. Besides, we embraced family planning as a way to guarantee the family’s well-being after learning of the consequences of having unplanned off springs.”
MP Esperance Uwimana commended the role of women in decision making and other institutions in the country.
“The part played by women in decision-making institutions, judicial institutions, economy and other fields is evident,” the legislator said.
The Southern Province Governor, Fidèle Ndayisaba in his remarks urged women to always aim at being development actors by designing projects that will raise their income levels.