Stakeholders Urge Men To Join The Fight For Gender Equality

By Donah Mbabazi

Involving men in broader deliberations towards women empowerment is crucial for accelerating the journey towards gender equality.

Even though women are at the forefront of this development, they need to work together with men so that challenges that are still hindering women empowerment are addressed.

This notion was put forward during celebrations of International Women’s Day that were held on Sunday, March 8.

The day was celebrated under the theme ‘women at the forefront of development’ as stakeholders reflected on how far women have come, prevailing challenges as they devised strategies that would further strengthen this fight.

Underlined factors such as gender-based violence and family conflicts among others were highlighted as some of the leading issues hindering women empowerment.
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Jeannette Bayisenge, the Minister for Gender and Family Promotion.

Jeannette Bayisenge, the Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, said that when a woman is empowered, development of the family is faster as well as that of the country in general.

“Since women constitute 52% of the population in Rwanda, it is impossible to talk about a country’s development when half of its population has no role in it. Our country’s history had made women lag behind but we thank our Government today that doesn’t tire in empowering women,” she said.

She also put emphasis on the role that men ought to play for gender equality to be attained noting that it is through solidarity and understanding that achieving the shared objectives and advantages of equality can be attained.

Milestones

There have been tremendous achievements in terms of promoting gender equality.

Presently, women make up 61% of Rwanda’s Parliament. There are 50 per cent female ministers, 45.2 per cent in district councils, 66.7 per cent vice mayors and social affairs, 49.7 per cent in judiciary, and 44.3 per cent of community mediators

According to the World Economic Forum, 95% of girls in Rwanda attend school, compared to 92% of boys.

Women also have access to finance and can also own land, which wasn’t the case in the past.

Women currently own more land (24 per cent) than their male counterparts (14 per cent), individually.

 “Although we have a lot of milestones to celebrate, challenges still prevail such as gender-based violence, defilement, malnutrition, conflicts at home, few women entrepreneurs, and for this to be addressed, we need support from all stakeholders private, government, religious bodies and families,” Bayisenge said.

A recent report on the status of gender equality in Rwanda showed that men continue to dominate the labour force.

There are fewer females who are in managerial positions than male – 34.1per cent for females and 65.9 per cent for males.

In terms of representation at the Local Government, female representation is still low, for example, there are 23.3 per cent of female mayors and 11 per cent executive secretary of sectors.

Call for more efforts

UN Resident Coordinator for Rwanda, Fode Ndiaye said that the year 2020 is a milestone moment for accelerating, implementation, global commitment for gender equality.

“It is time to stop trying to change women and start changing the system that prevents them from achieving their potential. If we are to see transformation, women should be at the front,” he said.

He emphasised that if women are given opportunities, they can deliver at the best standard possible.

“Therefore I dare to say that every day should be a women’s day to materialise this constant daily fight for women’s empowerment. I applaud the efforts of the Government of Rwanda for its full commitment in mainstreaming gender equality and women’s empowerment in all the development frameworks,” he said.

Pudence Rubingisa, Kigali City mayor said that if one compares women 25 years ago with their current status, they would find that there is a significant step women have taken especially in the city of Kigali.

He said, women have taken up leadership positions, excelling in higher learning institutions in different faculties or departments, they engage in different activities that develop them, their families and the country at large.

The City of Kigali also plays a role in supporting women’s development through a number of campaigns that contribute to their works. It also facilitates women through capacity building and fellowships that are conducted across the country.

The fellowships intend to train women on saving skills and creating their own small businesses.

“We pledge to ensure that women are not left behind in any aspect. This is done through the increase of such initiatives that propel women development and family promotion as the foundation of a developed country.

We shall continue with our campaigns in the fight against gender-based violence, setting strict laws that govern everyone who tries to hinder a woman’s development,” the mayor said.

Source: New Times

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