RWANDA: Women's Presence is Not Enough

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
All Africa
Central Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

Many people erroneously view gender as 'women's presence'. Yet, the women's presence is just the beginning, not the end point. For example, it is indeed a landmark that Rwanda has the highest number of women in the national parliament in the world - 56.3 per cent. It sounds politically correct, if you like. The question is: how can we prevent it being a missed opportunity to change the mindset that remains problematic in our communities where live?

We need also to move more quickly away from policy formulations and press on to implementation of these policies that will impact on those men and women in rural places like Musha, Kabare in Rwamagana District, where women attend workshops and register their husbands' names rather than their own on the attendance list. What story does this tell you? This means women still don't see themselves as visible and worth the trouble, which is a critical mindset puzzle that needs to be correctly filled.

In so doing, there is a need to understand what harbors this kind of mindset at all levels of society and then build appropriate awareness that is pegged onto demonstrating socio-economic costs and benefits in case of abandonment or acknowledgment of gender integration respectively.

The way we package our messages should be done diligently in order to avoid shooting ourselves in the foot. We should not portray gender mainstreaming as favouring women over men in modern politics; we should instead draw attention to how household living can be better if income is equitably shared or efforts combined.

These are not just women issues. These are family issues. These are economic issues.

And one of the things that makes us grow as an economy is when everybody participates and women are getting the same fair deal as men are.

It's unfair to think that getting women around you is an accomplishment of gender integration. It's more than that. Women do not need pampering. Women need equal access to skills and opportunities in order for them to compete in the world.