Much has been written and said about the genocide in Rwanda, but little of that analysis examined the role of women or gender considerations.
The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi put Rwanda in the limelight. It attracted all sorts of analysts from the world, who out of choice or malice watched and let the murderous acts take place.
Women are not entirely blameless in their role in the genocide. There are those who participated alongside their brothers, fathers, and sons.
Despite not joining the violence in great numbers, women were certainly victimized, targeted for not only their ethnicity but also their gender, women were subjected to sexual assault and torture.
We must highlight on women who fought for the liberation of this country. Women who immediately after the genocide took up multiple roles as heads of household, community leaders, and financial providers, meeting the needs of devastated families and communities.
They buried the dead, took charge of the almost 500,000 orphaned children, and built shelters for them. The Rwandan war was gendered so must be the recovery.
Women have played a major role in the peace and reconciliation mission of the country.
According to women’s eNews, Jodi Enda wrote that Serwer and others familiar with international conflict resolution said Rwanda would not have been able to overcome the horrors of its past without the significant involvement of women.
Generally, women are usually excluded and under-represented but are great partners for change in any conflict reconstruction.
Women are better than men at forgiving, reconciling and building peace. Fewer women perpetrated the killings and they represented 2.3 percent of those jailed.
Rwanda has set an example to the rest of the world in as far as women leadership is concerned. Women constitute more than half the parliament making Rwanda the first in the world to do so.
Both men and women were combatants during the struggle started by the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) against the Genocidal regime that had meted out violence on innocent Rwandans.
Among the women who were important in RPF are, Rose Kabuye, former Lt. Colonel in the Army and now the Director of state protocol in the Presidents office, Aloysia Inyumba who was involved in the mobilization of Rwandan refugees to fight against the injustices that had engulfed the entire country.
Annet Komuranga, who retired in 1998 as a sergeant must be honoured as well during this period. She worked tirelessly during the liberation struggle to ensure that Rwandans returned home. Betty Kabana RPF in 1990 and was among the first group and retired as a Corporal in 1997.
Let us also honour Rwandan first female Prime Minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana who was killed in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Uwilingiyimana and her husband surrendered themselves to the genocidaires to save their children, who stayed successfully hidden in a volunteer’s house.
She was a woman with a cause and her greatness was determined by the cause that she lived for and the price she was willing or rather the price she paid for its achievement.
It may be fifteen years since the war ended, but the role of women in rebuilding a better Rwanda is only growing bigger by the hour.