Women parliamentarians from the Great Lakes Region and Sahel concluded their meeting in Kigali, yesterday, pledging to actively participate in ensuring continental peace and security.
The five-day meeting brought together about 50 women parliamentarians from Burundi, Burkina Faso, DR Congo, Republic of Central Africa, Mali, Madagascar, Niger and Eritrea.
“We will participate in strengthening peace and security at national, regional and continental level and resist any genocide ideology and denial, especially in the Great Lakes Region,” read the declaration presented before Parliament at the closure of the meeting.
The meeting, which also included a study tour that saw participants visit different parts of the country, was held under the theme: “Optimising leadership policy for empowerment of women.”
The legislators, through the declaration, called on the African Union to support member countries in ensuring peace, security, stability and socio-economic development.
In his remarks, Senate President Bernard Makuza, told the women parliamentarians that gender mainstreaming in all government policies is key to socio- economic development.
“You could review our policies and strategies, legal and institutional framework that have been implemented. They show how Rwandan women have actively participated in socio-economic development,” Makuza said.
Rwanda has made significant strides in promoting gender equality, which is the third of the eight Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations.
Gender mainstreaming in all policies has given women access to education, financial services, and placed them in many decision-making positions.
The Constitution provides that women must constitute at least 30 per cent of all decision making organs.
Rwanda holds a world record of having majority women representation in Parliament.
About 64 per cent of seats in the Lower House are occupied by women, with 38 per cent in the Senate.
“This nation would not be where it is today if we had not recognised equality between women and men,” Makuza said.
He challenged the women legislators to engage in women emancipation programmes on their return to their respective countries.
“We shall establish a partnership with the African Union and the UNDP Initiative to influence and advocate for the integration of gender equality into policies, programmes and projects in our respective countries,” read the declaration.
Marie-Chantal Pani, the Deputy Speaker of the Central African Republic Parliament, said the trip to Rwanda will only yield when they ensure that what they have seen and discussed here is implemented in their respective countries.
Pani’s comments were echoed by a number of legislators, including MP Marie Madeleine from the DR Congo.
Lydia Raharimalala Toto, from Madagascar, said gender equality should see young women integrated into public affairs in order to prepare the next generation of leaders on the African continent.