AS RWANDA and indeed the rest of the world marked the International Women’s Day on March 8, a new Regus report indicated that women returning from maternity leave generally brought expertise to their companies.
Yet, it added, there were some firms, albeit few, in Rwanda, like elsewhere around the world, that were reluctant to hire pregnant women or retain mothers on maternity leave.
At least 72 per cent of respondents believed that such companies lose a great deal of invaluable skills as a result, which suggests that society is increasingly acknowledging the critical role of women at the workplace.
There is no doubt Rwanda has made giant strides as far as gender parity and women empowerment are concerned. This ten years plus journey, anchored on sustained political will and gender sensitive laws and policies that have been formulated over the years, has culminated into unprecedented levels of women’s participation in several aspects of society, notably in politics, family and on the social scene.
In terms of numbers Rwandan women have never fared better, especially in the public sector, with the country even breaking world records in some top leadership organs.
Women have also made important gains in education, ICT, among others.
Nonetheless, there is need to significantly improve women’s involvement in economic activities. With more than half of Rwandans female it’s no brainer that you need women’s active involvement in this critical area.
We need to see more and more women running large-scale businesses, acquiring big loans and increasingly playing a leading role in taking our private sector to the next level.
The hardest part has since been catered for; ensuring gender-sensitive legislation. For instance, today a Rwandan girl has as much right to property and inheritance as her brother.
Such policies should help unlock the full potential of Rwandan women.
But it will take collective and sustained efforts to make this happen, to translate our gender friendly laws into real actions that impact positively on the country.