Stakeholders from various sectors need to discern the causes and solutions to social norms that are destructive to society.
The call was made by Cyrus Munyaburanga Nkusi, the Chief Executive Officer of Governance for Africa during a talk show that was held last week.
Organized by Governance for Africa, the talk show, which was themed “Break the silence on social injustice” focused on society response on issues such as early pregnancies, drug abuse, gender based violence vis-a-vis culture.
It also focused on challenging harmful social norms through images that counter the objectification of women, alternative forms of non-violent action, gender equitable masculinities that are based on peace, caring and positive communication.
The talk show also aimed at breaking gender stereotypes: redefine strength and masculinity, fight sexual objectification of women and challenging harmful social norms.
Nkusi said the event was organised as a result of discussions that were held during the national dialogue last year which highlighted an increase in social injustices.
“During the national dialogue last year, the President spoke about the rampant issue of drug abuse and unwanted pregnancies and injustice in homes, so we thought we needed to take the lead and jointly work with institutions to find solutions for these problems,” he said.
Marie-Immaculée Ingabire, the chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda said adoption of foreign cultures which people hardly understand as one of the causes of such misfortunes.
She also castigated some parents for not being exemplary to their children.
“Parents sometimes do not serve as good examples, they ignore family responsibilities and are not strict enough with their children the way parents were in the past.”
For Omar Ndizeye, the Youth Coordinator at Never Again Rwanda, said today’s youth were exposed to bad influences on a day-to-day basis and that was what was needed to be dealt with.
“The youth today are faced with a number of challenges. There are a number of factors that lead to such unfortunate circumstances for example unemployment.
What needs to be done?
Ndizeye is of the view that the blame shouldn’t be put entirely on the victims but rather consider other societal factors and the need to address them.
“At times there are other factors, society has evolved and it continues to evolve. If we are to fight violence and other vices like drug abuse, let’s start by addressing things that seem light yet pose a great impact on the youth, for example music. These are what make society,” he pointed out.
He further advised the youth to spend their time in fruitful activities such as reading, and that with this, cases of unwanted pregnancies and drug abuse will certainly be reduced.
“We shouldn’t use the approach of blame but an approach of engagement; also instill values to our children, develop gender sensitivity in homes, mold your kids both boys and girls to be equal,” he added.
Ingabire stressed that when it comes to solving issues in regards to social injustices enough sensitization has been done, but the focus should now be put on families and how they parent their children.
“Parents should take responsibility, they should be strict but at the same time be friends with their children, this will create an atmosphere where children can openly talk to them,” she said.
Ingabire urged that as society looks for solutions; parents on the other hand should serve as examples to their children.
Alexis Nkurunziza, the Executive director of Rwanda Religious Leaders Forum said the situation will improve when Rwandans start dealing with these problems collectively and not hold religion as a separate entity.
“Religion has played a great role not only in Rwanda but Africa in general. We need to change our mindset to understand that religion should complement the development of societies in a positive way and also help them move away from ignorance.”