RWANDA: Sudanese MPs Impressed By Women's Empowerment

Thursday, November 4, 2010
Central Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

A visiting team of 26 lawmakers from the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly, have expressed satisfaction with the country's gender promotion programmes which are reflected at the grassroots level.

The lawmakers are in the country on a study tour to see how the Rwandan parliament has advanced the issues of gender and how the local government system is involving women in local councils.

In their tour of the Southern Province district of Nyamagabe, the lawmakers were briefed on how women are involved in the planning of several development programmes that have a direct bearing on the welfare of their communities.

Emmanuel Murangwa, Nyamagabe Vice Mayor in charge of Economic Affairs, told the lawmakers that gender promotion is a national policy that is reflected at all levels.

He said that the district had gone beyond the 30 percent required representation in decision making positions.

"In our district council, the number of women is now beyond 50 percent, it is now a culture in our district for men and women to sit together on equal footing and plan for development," Murangwa said.

Honourable Janet Alex, who is the head of the team, said that she was amazed by how, in a very short time after coming through a period of conflict, the country has been able to put in place all the structures that it needs for development.

"We have realised that every citizen is committed to play their part in making the country a better place. We need to go back and mobilise our people to work on developing their country," she said.

She revealed that Southern Sudan is left with a few months to the landmark decision on whether it will be an independent country or part of the North.

"The wish of the people of Southern Sudan is that they want to be independent and try to address the issues of development themselves," added.

During the tour, the team visited a coffee washing station owned by Epiphanie Mukashyaka, a genocide widow who has singlehandedly managed to run a successful coffee business.

"I am impressed by the impact this business has had on the community. Despite the setback of losing her husband during the 1994 Genocide, she has moved on to live a prosperous life, she did not lose hope, she picked herself up and managed to do excellent work for herself and the community," said another lawmaker.

Mukashyaka now runs two washing stations in Kamegeri Sector. She employs 20 permanent staff about 60 more during the peak of the coffee season.

Through her personal initiative, she has managed to bring electricity to her coffee washing station and this has also benefited the local population. She also provides clean water to people living near the station.

The team also visited Murambi Genocide Memorial Centre where they were taken through rooms containing preserved remains of victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.