Although Rwanda continues to shine for its progress in gender equality and women empowerment, ignorance, cultural and patriarchal challenges that hinder the journey are still many, the Speaker of Parliament, Donatille Mukabalisa, said yesterday.
Addressing Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) from 17 countries at the Senate, yesterday, Mukabalisa said that for women to be fully able to participate in national development, a lot more has to be done.
“Specific interventions to overcome challenges require firm commitment and strong strategies such as to continue with the ongoing efforts to promote gender responsive programmes, to strengthen women’s participation in socio-economic development and reinforce networking, especially intra Africa and globally,” she said.
The women parliamentarians are in Kigali for two days and are expected to discuss ways to establish Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians chapters that are being looked upon as the key drivers of women representation and advocacy at all levels.
The Chairperson of the CWP Rwanda Branch, Justine Umukobwa, said that the workshop should be viewed as an opportunity to share and learn from each other.
“This workshop is an opportunity to gain knowledge and skills and share experiences. We mainly focus on sensitising stakeholders on the general rights of women, social and religious practices that are harmful to women all with an aim to minimise the impact those practices have on women empowerment,” Umukobwa said, adding that it was also a platform for sharing information and experiences data on the elimination of these practices.
South African’s Angela T. Didiza reminded the participants to think of other ways to create space for more women to join politics.
“If women are in decision making positions, they are able to influence policy agenda so that more space can be opened for women participation. However, we are aware that it’s not only through political parties that women enter the political arena. It’s one of the issues that we need to reflect on and say, as CWP as part of our advocacy everywhere, how do we create space for women to participate in politics in particular,” she said.
The Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, Dr Diane Gashumba, explained to those in attendance that gender equality cannot be fully achieved if effective mainstreaming is not done.
“The implementation of the Rwandan national gender policy has been narrowed down to strategies and programmes implemented by a network of partners, including the national gender working group, which is comprised of local and international organisations, the United Nations and the civil society and the private sector. The effective monitoring of the policies lies within the responsibilities of the gender monitoring office,” she said.
The meeting, which was previously held in Nairobi, Kenya, ends today.