Local women rights organisations have pledged to build capacities to help come up with innovative solutions to major issues hindering women and girls’ rights, with a particular focus on prevention of gender based violence (GBV) and teen pregnancies and addressing unemployment of women.
The commitment was made at the official launch of a three-year programme that seeks to enhance “women’s rights protection, qualitative participation and freedom from violence”.
The programme is backed by Kvinna till Kvinna, a Swedish women’s rights organisation that supports women’s organisations in conflict and post-conflict regions.
The group selected five women’s organisations to work with, namely; Haguruka, Rwanda Women’s Network, Akwos, Reseau des Femmes, and Rwandan Organisation of Women with Disabilities (UNABU).
Abigail Booth, the head of Kvinna till Kvinna head office, said they believe in strengthening and supporting local women’s rights organisations through financial support and capacity building to help ensure that legislation and policies are implemented effectively at the grassroots level.
“We believe that by providing these organisations with support to grow their capacity and coordination, these organisations have an opportunity to be more effective agents for change to improve respect for women’s rights and women’s participation in society,” she said.
She added the expected outcomes of the programme include improved protection from gender-based violence with a specific focus on prevention, enhanced women’s qualitative participation in political and economic decision-making, conflict resolution as well as increased capacity of partner organisations to operate effectively and sustainably.
Speaking at the function, Nadine Gatsinzi Umutoni, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, said that, though a lot has been achieved in terms of women empowerment over the years, there is still a long way to go in terms of sustainability, where continuous support from partner organisations is needed.
“We still have a high rate of gender based violence, teenage pregnancies that put at stake the future of our young girls, low number of women in technical positions, issues related to poverty, and unemployment. Let us work together to come up with tangible solutions to these challenges,” she said.
The PS added: “We are lucky to have a good number of women rights activists who can serve as strength to help generate greater outcomes.”
Mary Balikungeri, the director and founder of Rwanda Women’s Foundation, said women should be active participants in the economic and political development of society to the same extent as men.
She added that the majority of issues hindering women’s emancipation are highly linked to cultural norms and beliefs which require continuous mindset change to address.
She noted that, with the support, they will focus on building the capacity of women to have confidence to speak up and give up on traditions that are outdated.