Rwanda today launches the national HeForShe campaign.
Initiated by UN Women as a global solidarity movement, “HeForShe” campaign is geared at engaging men and boys in tackling social and cultural barriers that prohibit women and girls from achieving their full potential.
The campaign challenges governments, corporate institutions and members of the academia to commit to end gender inequality in their areas of jurisdiction.
Today’s function will be launched at Parliament Buildings in Kigali, according to Darla Rudakubana, the communication and information advisor at the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion.
“The campaign will target all Rwandans, mainly men and women in public and private sectors,” Rudakubana told The New Times on Wednesday.
According to a concept note, the campaign aims at increasing awareness and strengthening support for gender equality and women’s empowerment as a human right, by enlisting men and encouraging them to continue putting themselves forward as advocates for gender equality.
Rwanda has been at the forefront of promoting gender equality, with the 2014 World Economic Forum report ranking the country as Africa’s best performer in closing the gender gap, and the seventh of 142 countries on the global index.
The campaign is considered an opportunity to appreciate the contribution of men and reinforce the importance of their role in promoting gender equality by encouraging their recommitment to further support the empowerment of women and girls, the ministry said.
Unlike in the past, it is believed that realising sustainable gender equality requires an inclusive strategy, where men and women are part of the effort.
In 2008, Rwanda became the first and only country in the world with a majority female representation in the Parliament at 56 per cent, and in 2013, women won 64 per cent of parliamentary seats.
Speaking to The New Times, yesterday, the chairperson of Rwanda Women Parliamentary Forum, Ignatienne Nyirarukundo, reflected on the recent gains in gender equality.
“Rwanda has made huge leaps in promoting gender balance, where Members of Parliament are seen as an example. Women have taken up many leadership positions, a sign that gender inequality is steadily fading,” Nyirarukundo said.
The campaign has also involved men and boys, by mobilising them as agents for change in ending the inequalities faced by women.
“Although the movement was originally viewed as a struggle only meant for women, men have also contributed by pledging their support in fighting against the inequalities and discrimination faced by women,” Nyirarukundo added.
Meanwhile, the campaign further aims to create impact by driving change from the highest levels of government, private sector and academia through identifying ‘impact champions’ within these sectors.
This will be achieved through a programme termed “Impact 10x10x10”.
When it was announced in June, 10 heads of state, 10 heads of corporations and 10 heads of varsities were selected as ‘impact champions’ to take on global outreach and advocacy for the ‘Impact 10x10x10’ programme.
In June, President Kagame joined UN Women’s HeForShe solidarity movement as an Impact 10x10x10 champion, making Rwanda one of the ten countries around the world committing to take bold, game-changing action to achieve gender equality within and beyond their countries.
Each global champion made ambitious, impactful and realistic commitments to end gender inequality by focusing on three key priority areas of their economies in which gender gaps remain significant.
It was in this perspective that Rwanda chose three priority areas from which the country’s commitments were drawn.
These include bridging the gender digital divide in ICT and attaining parity in access and usage, enhancing girls’ enrolment in Technical and Vocational Education and Training to boost their employability and eradicating gender-based violence.
Oda Gasinzigwa, the minister for gender and family promotion, in a previous interview with this newspaper, said empowering women is empowering a nation, especially in Rwanda, where women constitute 52 per cent of the population, adding that once women are fully empowered, the overall development of the country will be significant.
“A lot has been achieved in empowering women in Rwanda but in a research we conducted, we established that there is still a gap in certain areas such as ICT where uptake of women is still low,” she said.