Womenempowerment has always been at the forefront of Rwanda’s tireless efforts. Results have certainly been achieved with an increasing number of women taking part in various development aspects of the country.
In the 2017/2018 fiscal year, the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion received an allocation of about Rwf7.2billion.
Pamela Mudakikwa, the communications officer at the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, explains that the Ministry is planning to use the resources allocated to the Ministry on the vital aspects that mostly favour women empowerment.
She says that the areas to be focused on include promotion of gender equality, placing the family welfare at the centre of national development, fighting gender-based violence, promoting and protecting child rights and, mobilising women to participate in various development programmes.
What this means for women
Olive Uwamariya, a women’s activist says it is worth celebrating that the government walks the talk when it comes to women empowerment.
She says so many countries around the world promise to invest in the empowerment of women but it ends up becoming a lip service as they fail to invest in the sector substantially.
“So this shows how committed the government is and as much as a lot has already been done, the government recognises that not only do we need to secure the gains achieved in promoting gender equality, but we also need to continue addressing socio-economic inequalities that Rwandan women continue to face, especially rural women who are most vulnerable,” Uwamariya points out.
For instance, many cases of violence go unreported, women and children continue to face violence within and out of homes, so we need to strengthen our efforts in addressing these issues, she adds.
The activist says that the allocation of the resources will to a great extent favour the execution of the planned activities.
“On one hand, the budget will assist in supporting ongoing efforts to bridge the gap between gender policies and programmes and implementation of these policies, such as building the capacities of local structures to be more effective and timely in addressing issues that women and girls face,” Uwamariya adds.
But on the other hand, she says money is never enough to solve all the issues and this is where prioritising, innovation and addressing the root causes of gender inequalities become more important within this sector.
Caroline Namara, the president of 1Rwanda Toastmasters International, shares a similar view, saying that keeping in mind that over 52 per cent of the country’s population is comprised of women, investing in their transformation is a wise step.
“Over the years, lives of women have been transformed from being victims to leading actors in both public and private sectors with the support of such a budget,” she says.
“With that, and looking at the budget this year, I have no doubt that more lives, especially for women and girls, are going to be affected positively. More opportunities and policies that support their growth will be reinforced and implemented,” Namara adds.
More aspects to focus on
Kelia Gasabwa, a young entrepreneur based in California USA, says that since women play a critical role in their families’ survival and success, there are so many benefits that come with promoting gender equality and family welfare.This is why she believes that empowering women acts as a potential aid and it does accelerate the economic growth and continued development.
Rwanda has made strides towards equality by increasing women’s share of seats in the national parliament and local government bodies, and it is something to be proud of as a Rwandan, she points out.
The young entrepreneur, however, suggests that there are other areas that can also be focused on, for instance, strengthening opportunities for post-primary education for girls while simultaneously meeting commitment to universal primary education.
“These include making schooling more affordable by reducing costs and offering targeted scholarships, building secondary schools close to girls’ homes, and making schools more responsive to the needs of the girl child,” Gasabwa says.
She adds that guaranteeing female property inheritance rights should be a focus.
“Ensuring female property and inheritance rights would help empower women both economically and socially and rectify a fundamental injustice. Rectifying this injustice will also have other positive outcomes because women’s lack of property has been increasingly linked to development-related problems, including poverty, HIV/AIDS, and violence.
“Also as a business woman, I think women in general should be encouraged to join entrepreneurship and should also be provided with easy access to capital,” Gasabwa says.
Laurene Umutoni Rwema, the co-owner of Uzi Collections, applauds the effort shown by the government in terms of women empowerment.
She applauds certain programmes such as creation of early childhood development centres in every sector and provision of professional caregivers, saying that it will definitely play a key role in the development of a child in all aspects.
Courts dedicated to handling family issues only are on the other hand a big bonus.
“The Rwandan society is a family based society. Dedicated lawyers and policy makers for family issues would ease handling of disputes in families,” Rwema says.
Rwema is also of the view that equality should be ensured too in working environments, more so with corporate positions.
“Equal pay should be ensured and the same should be done by providing equal chances to men and women in education, knowledge-based jobs, and careers among others,” she says.