[Editorial] Political will only recipe for gender parity

It is that time of the year when global organisations give a bill of health to countries; assessing their performance across many sectors, recording their failures and generally tracing the best possible route to take in order to improve.

It is that time of the year when global organisations give a bill of health to countries; assessing their performance across many sectors, recording their failures and generally tracing the best possible route to take in order to improve.

One of the most respected is the World Economic Forum that publishes numerous reports in many categories. The latest is the Global Gender Gap Report that carries not-very-good news.

For the first time since records began being kept in 2006, the gender gap has been widening in areas such as education, politics, workplace and health.

The report has been cause for alarm because it states that, at the current pace, the gender gap will take an estimated 100 years to close yet last year it would have taken 83.

Yet, Rwanda again has come out with flying colours in gender parity. It was the fourth best performer globally coming behind Iceland, Norway and Finland. Indeed, if the country had posted any other results it would have been surprising because it has made closing the gender gap among its top priorities.

When it comes to performance in many indicators, it is a road Rwanda has travelled several times, a success story that many have tried to emulate but with little success because of lack of political will.

Sometimes the widening of the gender gap is caused by governments sending the wrong message. Just recently, an African country banned women from beating the drum, an intricate part of its culture. It is that kind of mentality of drawing a dividing line between men and women that will continue to make gender parity a pipe dream in many countries.

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