While the 9th of August 2010 presidential elections are hailed by many, a large section of Rwanda’s women are doubly celebrating the women’s political involvement.
The voting process was not only an indicator of Rwanda’s democratic credentials but also a gauge for measuring the country’s gender empowerment programmes, especially since women constitute over half of the population.
While the whole nation is celebrating the extraordinary voter turnout, we, the Rwandan women, are also celebrating the rising numbers of not only women who voted, but also our direct involvement in the entire electioneering process. More women took the stage during the campaigns on the opposing sides, which is a reflection of women’s participation in the country’s politics.
As a woman activist, I am happy that the voting pattern is progressive.
The journey towards gender equality is not an overnight venture but we are slowly getting there in many aspects.
The increased participation of women in voting as well as decision-making processes of our country is a result of the long journey so far walked by the Rwandan women, thanks to an unprecedented political will over the last 16 years.
The Government of Rwanda has ratified several international and regional instruments with regard to the advancement of women rights, such as CEDAW, Beijing, Soelm Declaration, to mention but a few.
The occupation of women in high-level leadership positions, include Speaker of Parliament and Chief Justice, is a direct result of the ever-growing confidence and empowerment of Rwandan women. This increased empowerment and confidence is partly why a woman stood as a presidential candidate in the recent elections.
It is also clear that women are increasingly winning the confidence of the people. For the first time in Rwanda, we have a women majority parliament, which is also a world record. The Constitutional requirement that women shall always occupy a minimum of 30 percent seats at all decision-making levels is already paying huge dividends across the country.
The existence of laws and policies on Gender Based Violence (GBV), inheritance, land rights, girls’ education policy, among others, have all helped boost the status and welfare of a Rwandan woman.
All these policies have ultimately increased women’s involvement in development programmes. This has not been the case in the public sector only; more women have grown into prominent business leaders, and are actively seizing the opportunities that have come with Rwanda’s admission in such economic groupings as the East African Community (EAC).
With the inauguration of President Kagame, and thus the continuity of democracy and good policing, we stand sure that the concerns of women will continue to be addressed.
Mothers now know that more of their daughters will advance to top education levels. More women will become entrepreneurs and, the overall women’s contribution to the country’s development, will drastically improve.
We congratulate and celebrate today’s historic inauguration of President Kagame.
The author is the Coordinator of FAWE Rwanda