Kagame: Women empowerment more than just the number of women in leadership

President Paul Kagame has said that women’s 64 per cent representation in Rwanda’s Lower House should not be seen as an end in itself with regard to women empowerment in the country.
President Kagame and the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, during the MDG Advocacy Group meeting in Kigali on Thursday. (Village Urugwiro)
President Kagame and the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, during the MDG Advocacy Group meeting in Kigali on Thursday. (Village Urugwiro)

President Paul Kagame has said that women’s 64 per cent representation in Rwanda’s Lower House should not be seen as an end in itself with regard to women empowerment in the country.

He was speaking yesterday on the last day of the summer summit of the Women in Parliaments (WIP) Global Forum at the Parliamentary Buildings in Kigali.

 

The President said women’s strong representation in the Chamber of Deputies was a natural result of conscious efforts to remove the obstacles that prevented Rwandans, including women, from using their talents and abilities to full potential. 

 

Kagame said women empowerment was an inherent aspect of the RPF’s Liberation Struggle, adding that women are also well represented in other spheres of public life.

 

“Beyond Parliament, Rwandans have become accustomed to see women in positions of responsibility in government and private sector, that it is rarely even remarked upon,” the President told delegates attending the summit.

The Head of State observed that empowered women in legislature, business and other areas had an important effect on the ambitions and dreams of younger girls.

He stated that as much as  measurements, smart policies and investments in public goods are crucial tools for driving change, ultimately success comes down to the choices made by real people every day and hence the importance of building a popular consensus on the way forward amongst ordinary citizens.

Tips on MDGs

Kagame advised that the best way to achieve and even surpass the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to women was to integrate the private sector growth and investments climate to reform and improve the development paradigm. “In turn, the indicators should catalyse investments to raise labour productivity so that growth results in higher incomes for everyone in the society. Given the opportunities presented by higher rates of urbanisation, there is a strong case for a new goal focused on sustainable cities and human settlements.” President Kagame and the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, are the Co-chairs of the MDG Advocacy Group.

Speaking at the same forum, Prime Minister Solberg echoed similar views, saying Rwanda’s gender equality achievements were not limited to numbers. It has shown the world the difference women can make in healing the society after conflicts and war in reconstruction and reconciliation, she said.

“I consider it a new lesson for the new development framework to follow after the Millennium Development Goals (2015) deadline. The MDGs have to add a powerful spark to make the world a better place for women and girls,” she said. 

Silvana Koch-Mehrin, the founder of Women in Parliaments Forum, noted that another positive aspect of women participation and empowerment is that national resources benefit the whole population.

The summit, that ran from July 1-3, was organised in partnership with the Rwandan Parliament.

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