Women should be involved in all activities geared toward socioeconomic development if the country is to develop faster, activists and officials said yesterday.
Speaking at national celebrations for this year’s International Women’s Day, activists said women have proved to be as capable as men in all sectors.
The event took place in Shyogwe Sector, Muhanga District.
The day was celebrated under the international theme “Time is now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives,” while locally the theme was “Rwandan women at the forefront of sustainable development: Building the Rwanda We Want.”
The event featured awarding of young women who recently acquired Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) skills.
Over 140 people who were given life skills in various trades such as construction, plumbing, tailoring and hair dressing were also given various start-up kits, worth Rwf66 million, through the National Employment Programme.
In addition, 10 female students who excelled in last year’s A-Level exams were awarded with laptops by Imbuto Foundation.
This brings the number of schoolgirls who have been awarded by Imbuto to over 4600 since 2005.
Women cooperatives also showcased various products, ranging from agricultural to handcrafts.
Speaking at the event, the Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, Espérance Nyirasafari, challenged women to sustain the current gains in gender equality.
She noted that government had done a lot to ensure gender inclusiveness as well as inclusive policies and legal instruments.
Nyirasafari urged women to aim higher and work with their male counterparts to help the country achieve its development goals.
“We are committed to equality between men and women, we are aware that whenever a woman develops, so do the family and the entire nation,” she said.
“What we have seen here demonstrates that a woman is able and all we need is to support them, girls can pursue TVET and can ably compete with their male counterparts,” she added.
She urged Rwandan women to work hard, embrace TVET courses, and join cooperatives and financial institutions to secure funding for their business.
“We have seen that a woman can fix electricity and other things that require hands-on skills, let us keep it up and avoid distractions,” she said, reaffirming government’s support to women’s development endeavours.
This year, the focus will be on sustaining the gains made in empowering women and girls through Technical and Vocational Education and Training.
The minister also urged more collective efforts to end gender-based violence.
“We still see cases of gender-based violence and rape of young girls which results into unwanted pregnancies, we should stop this,” she said.
One UN Resident Coordinator for Rwanda Fode Ndiaye hailed the country’s efforts in bridging gender gap while making protection and empowerment of women a priority.
He stressed the need to put in more efforts in promoting TVET among girls for them to acquire practical skills, as well as involving more women in leadership and economic activity.
“When a woman takes part in leadership development, the country develops more,” he said.
Monique Uwizeramariya, an electrical engineering graduate from University of Rwanda who is now an electrical teacher at Ecole Technique de Kabgayi (ETEKA) in Muhanga District, said women should always endeavor to maximise their full potential.
“I joined TVET at a time very few girls did. I acquired skills in electricity and I am now an engineer. I teach electricity but I have other part-time jobs where I install power in people’s houses and public buildings,” she said.
“I encourage more youth, especially girls, to join TVET,”she said. “My dream is to become an entrepreneur.”