Gender equality: Let men lead struggle

At the close of 2014, a new report by the World Economic Forum revealed that Rwanda is among the top ten, out of 142 countries that have achieved much in closing the gender gap.

At the close of 2014, a new report by the World Economic Forum revealed that Rwanda is among the top ten, out of 142 countries that have achieved much in closing the gender gap. 

In fact, Rwanda is the only country in sub-Saharan region to be ranked in the top 10, but that does not mean that fight against gender inequity is over.

The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report looked at how nations distribute political participation, economic resources and opportunities, access to healthcare and education, between women and men.

The areas where Rwanda topped were political empowerment performance and economic participation and opportunity.

While the report acknowledged that, globally, the gender gap is narrowing, there were areas that were lagging behind. The gap for political empowerment remained wider, at 21 per cent. But Rwanda excelled in the sector.

It’s clear, that one of the reasons that inspired Rwanda’s performance was the country’s leadership that advocated for legal frameworks that would give women more opportunity. And among the legal instruments in place is the 2003 constitution, that provides for 30 percent automatic representation of women in decision making organs.

The quota has since been surpassed within various organs, notably the Parliament which constitutes double the provision, with 64 percent of the seats occupied by women.

The executive also, comprising cabinet ministers and ministers of state, has a women representation of 36 per cent.

Under the pillar of economic participation and opportunities in the report, Rwanda was ranked the 25th globally.

The section looked at labour force, wage equality for similar work for men and women, estimated earned income, legislators, senior officials and managers, professional and technical workers, labour force participation, enrollment in primary education, sex ratio at birth and women in parliament, among other things.

In Africa, after Rwanda, came Burundi at 17th globally, followed by South Africa and Nigeria. In East Africa Kenya emerged 37th, Tanzania 47th and Uganda 88th, according to the report.

Away from that, in 2012, the Ministry of Education recorded 97.5 per cent enrollment for girls at primary level and another big percentage at secondary level.

Going by a United Nations Children’s Fund report published in the same year, Rwanda has the highest enrollment rates in primary education in Africa. The country has also registered success in observing gender parity; with girls’ net enrolment rate of 98 per cent compared with 95 percent for boys.

Rwanda is currently among the leading contributors of women police officers in peacekeeping missions, and is among the few countries that have elaborated the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 action plan.

The results of the above reports are all incredible evidence that the government is doing a good job as far as women empowerment is concerned.

However a lot of work still has to be done, if gender equality will ever be achieved wholesomely. For instance traditional patriarchal attitudes continue to dominate and rates of domestic violence are still relatively up — there continues to be a high level of tolerance by both men and women of domestic violence.

More in that line, there remains a gender gap in public sector higher education, especially in science and engineering, but women are taking advantage of the opportunities to study in the private higher education institutions. However, the majority of women, especially poor women in rural areas have yet to benefit.

The gap between men and women employed in non-farm work is widening and the Indicator of 50 per cent of those in paid non-agricultural employment being women by this year is unlikely to be met.

Men should be involved in all the process, making them a responsible part in reaching a gender equal society in Rwanda. Involving men in training and skill building for gender equality will enable them understand the benefits that may accrue from empowered women.