RWANDA: Where Are Women Leaders?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Central Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

A new report has revealed disturbing facts; Rwandan women occupy few leadership positions, contrary to the common belief that Rwanda has a fairly high number of women leaders.

The findings, from a survey by the Gender Monitoring Office (GMO), indicate that more men are holding far more leadership positions, compared to women in various sectors in governance, and also dominate in both agriculture and business.

The situation at most leadership levels, it says, is a far cry from women representation in parliament, where they make up 56.3 percent of the Chamber of Deputies.

The report was released on Monday in Kigali during a stakeholders' meeting convened to share ideas and present the achievements and challenges of the GMO.

"In governance, the percentage of men heading the Chamber of Deputies' standing committees is still high compared to that of women - 63.6 per cent against 36.4 per cent," says the report.

The report shows that there is only one woman provincial governor out of four, while women district mayors constitute just 10 per cent (three out of 30 mayors).

The 2003 Constitution stipulates that women shall constitute not less than 30 percent of leadership positions at all levels.

This provision also applies to the private sector - but even in the public sector few organs meet this threshold.

At the grassroots level, women constitute 38.7 per cent of the Village Executive Committees, 43.9 per cent of the Cell Consultative Committees and 45.1 per cent of the Sector Consultative Committees, the report indicates.

It also shows that women make up 43.2 per cent of all the District Consultative Committees.

In courts, 33.3 per cent of presidents of Intermediate Courts are women.

In business, the report says, women constitute only 31.3 per cent of visitors to Business Development Services, while a paltry 7 per cent of the country's coffee business entities are run by women.

It also indicates that women account for 28.9 per cent of the number of persons employed in ICT companies, and 21.4 per cent of the workforce in urbanism and habitat sector.

In the transport sector, women account for 28.4 per cent of the workforce, and 33 per cent of the number of persons accessing jobs in public infrastructure.

Only two women own coffee washing stations compared to 19 men, the report says, adding that women also constitute 29.9 per cent of the total coffee farmers, and 38.7 per cent of tea farmers.

Men are the main beneficiaries of loans towards value-adding enterprises in rural areas, accounting for 87.3 per cent, and also dominate commercial agriculture - at 61.3 per cent -, it adds.

Reacting to the survey, Jeanne d'Arc Gakuba, Senate vice president, encouraged women to keep fighting for their rights.

"Gender mainstreaming is a process and so women must fight for their rights. Women in other fields shouldn't be afraid to take up leadership positions, including at the district level, or even mayoral positions," she told The New Times yesterday.

Aquiline Niwenfura, the Executive Secretary of GMO, attributed the disparity to the fact that women have limited capacity yet posts are "won on merit, as opposed to gender basis".

The report also states that there is limited number of women representation in higher institutions of learning, media institutions and some other sectors.

"We still have very few women especially in higher institutions of learning... many aren't competent enough, for instance, we have few women holding PhD's compared to men," Niwenfura told The New Times.

The findings point to a number of challenges, including inadequate gender mainstreaming in sector policies and analyses.

Whereas the participation of women in governance is generally low, they represent 66.7 percent of the Executive Committee of the City of Kigali, the report says. In Kigali City Council, women represent 51.1 percent.

Niwenfura added that there was need for a mindset change and for more girls to take up science courses.