As Rwanda joins the rest of the world, in marking the centenary celebrations for the International Women’s Day, it’s important to do so with a sense of renewed purpose to ensure that women empowerment is not only sustained, but entrenched at all levels.
There’re countless success stories of women in this country, who have taken advantage of the highly gender mainstreaming policies and programmes to turn around their fortunes.
In Rushaki Sector, Rulindo District, for instance, a women’s cooperative, known as AFERU Rushashi, has provided education loans to its members – most of them middle-aged women. Some of the beneficiaries have graduated from Universities and are now using their income to repay their education loans.
Apart from the increased participation of women in the country’s decision-making process, where, in most cases, they now occupy far more than the Constitutional threshold of 30 percent at every leadership level, Rwanda tops the world with the highest percentage of Women in Parliament.
Women too, are making remarkable progress in the business world.
Thanks to an enabling environment, more and more women have gone entrepreneurial, and are making a difference in their own communities. Some have grown into major exporters of varied Rwandan brand. They are changing their families and the world at the same time.
Such stories should inspire more women to stand up and be counted. They must seize the existing opportunities and exploit their full potential. With women accounting for more than half of the population, their full participation in socio-economic and political processes will, without doubt, deliver the country’s aspirations.
Yet, more needs to be done. Make no mistake. There are still some prejudices and practices that threaten the rights of girls and women. These must be fought by everyone, if we are to consolidate and expand the gains in gender issues.