President Paul Kagame has urged women members of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF Inkotanyi) to stand up against gender-based violence, domestic violence and fight the trafficking of women and girls.
The President was speaking at the 3rd RPF-Inkotanyi Women's League Congress, which took place in Kigali yesterday.
The Congress was convened to evaluate the group’s achievements over the last two years and plan for the future.
Kagame, who is also the Chairman of the RPF, said that women should never be apologetic when demanding rights that translate into living in harmony within their families and communities.
He added that the wellbeing of women translates into peace and development for the country at large.
“Empowering women is not a favour, it's a responsibility. Promoting the Rwandan woman is developing the whole nation and it is a principle that has always been true to the RPF.” Kagame said.
“When we talk about empowering women we are talking about empowering the family and the community. A man and a woman complement each other and they ought to work together to develop their families.
The President pointed out that the RPF believes in working for the collective development of the Rwandan people and that should be maintained.
“It’s a unique way of doing things and that is what makes us different from others,” Kagame said.
The President urged Rwandan women not to tolerate any forms of violence committed towards them, be it from their spouses or other situations that put them at risk such as trafficking and prostitution.
“There has to be harmony in the family and the community so that everyone can prosper,” he said.
Rwanda has prioritised women empowerment since the RPF took over power 23 years ago.
The 2014 World Economic Forum report ranked Rwanda Africa’s best performer in closing the gender gap, and the seventh of 142 countries on the global index.
Globally, Rwanda also has the highest representation of women in Parliament with women occupying 64 per cent of the seats.
The President challenged the women to use their influence to stop all forms of abuse.
“Men who abuse their wives should be brought to justice in the strictest form. Why would anyone tolerate violence against women? It should never be tolerated,” he said, adding that younger women need to be counselled about marriage life and not to tolerate domestic violence or fall for the temptations presented by traffickers.
The Congress was attended by over 2000 members of the RPF’s women league.
They thanked him for his relentless efforts in fighting for women’s rights and pledged their continued support in helping the country achieve its developmental goals.
“We thank the president for continuously encouraging women to have confidence in themselves,” said the league’s president Maria Mukantabana.
The women committed to fighting human trafficking, gender-based violence and other challenges faced by women and girls including early pregnancies and creation of off-farm job opportunities.