Gender equality is a common sense if leaders want to advance and improve societies, President Paul Kagame has said.
President Kagame was speaking at the launch of the HeforShe Impact 10x10x10 campaign in Davos.
The campaign is a one-year pilot bringing together 10 governments, corporations and universities to address gender inequality.
President Kagame joined Prime Minister Stefan Löfven of Sweden; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson; and Paul Polman, CEO and Chairman of Unilever for the launch of the HeforShe Impact 10x10x10 campaign.
“When women advance, everyone benefits. The key principle, in addition to understanding gender equality as a human right, is to use the talents of all our people to the full potential, in politics, business and elsewhere. This is common sense if we want to advance and improve our societies,” he said.
Sharing Rwanda’s experience, Kagame said lifting barriers to equality has helped to change people’s mindset.
“In Rwanda, when we removed legal and social barriers that had prevented many classes of people from fully participating in public life, women did not need any special encouragement to emerge,” he said.
“As more women assume positions of responsibility, society’s mindset about the definition of leadership also changes. And every person, no matter their background, sees themselves as potential leaders,” he added.
Following the launch of the 10x10x10 initiative, the President spoke on the importance of the MDGs for sustainable development.
Introduced by moderator Fareed Zakaria of CNN as the man who should get the Nobel Prize for implementation of difficult ideas in a very difficult context, Kagame highlighted the importance of a collaborative approach to achieving MDGs.
“The MDGs reflected the reality, that responsibility for global development is shared. It is not only about donors, or only about governments of developing countries. It is all of us together,” President Kagame said.
As co-chair of the MDG advocacy group, President Kagame pointed to three lessons learnt from the implementation of the MDG.
“The three lessons are; need to pomote gender equality, sustainable prosperity, and embracing innovation in science and technology,” he said.
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven of Sweden emphasised the essential role of government in sustaining gender parity.
“Gender equality should be the business of government. It is both morally right and economically wise,” he said.
The Millennium Development Goals were established after a series of world summits with the aim of implementing a comprehensive development agenda.
Rwanda adopted the MDGs along with 191 other countries. The target date for the completion of the MDGs is December 2015.
With over one million lifted out poverty, gender parity and universal primary education and a 60 per cent reduction in maternal mortality, Rwanda is set to achieve almost all of the MDGs by the set target date.