Delegates at the Women in Parliaments Global Forum (WIP) have called for more involvement of women in decision making in order to push the UN development agenda forward. They commended Rwanda’s high percentage of female representation in government.
The remarks were made yesterday at the closure of a three-day WIP meeting in Kigali.
Rwanda was ranked top in Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) progress among 48 African countries, according to a survey done last year by advocacy organisation ONE.
Senator Therese Bishagara Kagoyire, said having more women in Parliament has helped improve the quality of life for women.
She said the high female representation in Parliament has helped Rwanda drastically improve its maternal health care and meet the UN’s goal of reducing the maternal death rate by three-quarters.
“Women in Parliament go out in the field to mobilise other women and educate them about these issues,” she said.
“Now instead of giving birth at home, they are going to hospitals for proper care.”
The World Health Organisation announced in May that Rwanda had met its maternal healthcare MDG target ahead of time, reducing maternal deaths by 77 per cent since 1990.
Jean-Louis Ville, head of governance, democracy, gender and human rights at EuropeAid, agrees that it’s important to include more women in decision making if nations want to be successful at implementing the MDGs.
“Women have a different angle, they have a different perspective and this is very important,” he said.
Ville said there is no doubt that the reason Rwanda had reached the MDG targets is because of its high female representation in Parliament.
The eight MDGs were created in order to address the needs of the wretched of the earth. They include promoting gender equality as well as improving maternal health, among others, and were agreed to by the United Nations member states in 2000.
The next stage of development goals
Yesterday’s discussion was focused on the future and how women can help in advancing global development after the 2015 deadline for MDG targets.
Anita Asiimwe, Rwanda’s Minister of State for Health, and Sering Falu Njie, deputy director of policy for the UN Millennium Campaign, both said that in order to move forward with women’s rights, the global community needs to focus more on quality rather than quantity.
“It’s one thing to get voices, it is another to have those voices heard,” Njie said.
Asiimwe cited the women in Rwanda’s government as good examples of strong female leaders who, she said, are always challenging her.
“The toughest questions I get are coming from the women MPs,” she said.
The post-2015 development goals are expected to improve on the progress of the MDGs by focusing more on areas such as violence against women.