Tribute to Rwanda's gendernomics

It's funny how simple questions can turn-out to be complicated even to exceptionally witty minds; here's an example, three birds were patched on a twig when two of them decided to fly away, how many birds remained behind?

It's funny how simple questions can turn-out to be complicated even to exceptionally witty minds; here's an example, three birds were patched on a twig when two of them decided to fly away, how many birds remained behind?

You’re probably angry at me for asking such a silly question whose answer, you think, even a toddler could easily answer from the comfort of its mother’s laps; one bird of course remained, unless the third one followed its colleagues to avoid boredom!

But think about this; the two birds decided to fly but actually never flew away, that means all three birds remained patched on the twig, none flew in spite of the decision.

Sorry for beating around the bush but that’s how world leaders seem to be dealing with the issue regarding promotion of gender parity; too many high profile conferences at which high sounding decisions are taken but very little action is seen.

In many parts of the world, women are still being battered in abusive marriages, in the rural areas, millions of women are still held hostage by backward cultural norms that dictate how they should dress, eat or even walk.

As for those that have gotten an education, many a qualified woman can’t get to the top of the professional ladder as the environment in which they compete is still highly patriarchal.

Last week in Davos, I watched and listened as President Kagame shared Rwanda’s experience in encouraging and placing women in positions of national responsibility; he showed how from 30 percent parliamentary representation, that statistic has risen to over 60 percent.

The session’s moderator, Yahoo news anchor Katie Couric lauded Rwanda saying it has acted on what’s presented as ideas elsewhere on how to involve women. In other words, Rwanda is the bird that decided to fly and actually ‘flew into action,’ giving women a more active role in nation building.

Rwanda’s 63.8 percent female representation in parliament where they occupy 51 out of the 80 seats in the Lower House is a popular statistic that many a speaker, globally, like quoting whenever they talk about women involvement in leadership.

Yet Rwanda stands alone in that category; the only country in the world with a female dominated parliament a feat first achieved (I think) in 2008 when women took up 56 per cent representation in the House of Representatives.

In Davos, Kagame’s presentation won the country so many admirers including Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director who flew straight to Rwanda at the end of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting, to come and validate these tales.

On the second day of her visit, Lagarde told me that what she saw in Rwanda exceeded her expectations of the country.

In Parliament she said, “You are building a resilient and inclusive economy. This parliament is a case in point — more than 60 percent of you are women, the World’s highest and more than double the average for parliaments in other countries. I am proud to stand before you.”

Before Parliament, Lagarde who’s Forbes Magazine most influential woman of 2014, had hosted women leaders to lunch at Serena, for close to two hours, she interacted with some of Rwanda’s own influential women whose contribution has helped transform the nation.

In Davos, Melinda Gates had made the point that by investing in women, governments will be investing in everybody adding that if it carried on for at least fifteen years, economies would register an extra 12 percent growth.

Lobbyists say that women are efficient. They also tend to take care of their families better with their resources than men. And that if a mother is educated, their daughters/sons too will be educated.

With the prominent role of women today, Rwandan girls have plenty of inspiration to push them through the rigorous education system; by looking at their successful mothers, sisters, cousins, and aunts, they know that early marriage or pregnancy must be avoided at all costs.

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