As we celebrate Women’s Day today with the theme “Equal Access to Education, Training and Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women” Rwanda Women Network (RWN) takes this opportunity to reflect on its dreams for Rwanda’s woman.
Since 1997, RWN—a national non-governmental organization—has worked towards the promotion and improvement of the socio-economic welfare of women in Rwanda through enhancing their effort to meet their basic needs.
We facilitate and work with over 40 grassroots partners including women’s support groups, associations and cooperatives that promote women’s empowerment.
We are passionate about women’s health, rights, social and economic wellbeing as we learn and exchange knowledge. Our dream is to see that the victims of Gender Based Violence and other forms of abuse, become survivors and advocates.
We encourage women infected and affected with HIV/AIDS to live positively and with dignity. We want widows, vulnerable and poor women to improve their livelihoods.
We hope to see vulnerable children and orphans especially girls get quality education and change their lives for the better.
We weave our dreams around women led and driven initiatives, holistic approaches, empowerment and capacity building, voluntary community participation, right-based programs, gender mainstreaming as well as advocacy and networking.
Rwanda’s women have witnessed great strides and profound achievements over the past 16 years. Dreams became true when the number of women in decision-making and progressive legislative administration increased.
By streamlining women and men’s rights, an improved health system has been registered. This is evident in the declining annual under-five mortality rates i.e. from 152 to 103.
Additionally, modern contraceptive use in Rwanda has increased.
Rwanda is tirelessly weaving her dreams to improve maternal health trends, HIV infection rates and its related stigma and discrimination. Gender Based Violence is becoming intolerable while more girls are getting enrolled into schools.
We still continue to dream that Rwanda’s vision of an improved education will lower women’s literacy rates so that they are better placed to achieve their full potential.
We shall continue to call upon the government and policy makers to pursue the following recommendations for a quality education for Rwanda’s girls:-
1. Decrease the high drop-out rate of girls from Secondary School and Higher Institutions of learning.
2. Revisit the bursary scheme to ensure that vulnerable University students especially girls get appropriate assistance.
3. Increase access to quality vocational training and other forms of informal education.
4. Revisit the parliamentary proposal to lower the legal age of marriage from 21 to 18 years, as this promotes early marriages which further dis-empowers and cripples women’s access to education.
5. Ensure that schools offer a rewarding experience. Schools should be safe, have more female and qualified teachers, a gender responsive curriculum, and offer a broad range of life skills including, comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health education.
Rwanda Women Network will persistently make her dream possible and call upon the government and other partners to build an education system that invests in holistic approaches.
Nothing should deter Rwanda’s women from their aspirations because this is their pathway to decent work and equal pay.
Annette Mukiga is the Programs Officer at Rwanda Women Network.