On Thursday 8th March 2018, residents of Gashyita sector in Karongi District gathered at the sector grounds in Western province of Rwanda to join the rest of the world in recognizing the efforts, achievements, resilience, potential and struggle of all the women in our global families by celebrating the International Women’s Day.
This year, at the global level, the International Women’s Day is being celebrated with an aim of rural and urban activists pushing for the transformation of women’s lives.
The efforts made towards a gender equal society have never been as strong as what we can witness today.
Rural women have traditionally been let furthest behind: in education, in health, in access to productive resources such as quality land, affordable financing, time-saving technology and labor-saving technology. Their work is not always recognized despite their important contribution to rural economies and they are usually excluded from the benefits of economic growth.
Officiated by the guest of honor MP Nsabimana Samuel, the celebrations were joined by Rwanda officials including the mayor of Karongi District, officials from RWAMREC and other representatives from international and national nonprofit organizations.
While giving his speech as guest of honor, honorable Nsabimana Samuel called on residents of Karongi to respect women and the rights of the girl child in order to spur development.
“All the success that a woman receives be it in business or in governance as a leader directly benefits the family, the sector, the District and the country at large. So, men should be part of the women’s success by encouraging succeeding” said Nsabimana
He went on to say that Government and all national partners, continue to advocate, support policies and strategies, implement programmes and build capacity for women in the country.
“The government wants to ensure that men and women, young and old, realize their full potential in fighting poverty and contribute to a peaceful, prosperous, inclusive, equitable and sustainable development” he added.
He acknowledged the contribution of Rwanda Men’s Resource Center (RWAMREC) in building peaceful and happy families by engaging both men and women in the promotion of gender equality and equity.
Speaking during the celebrations, the representative from RWAMREC Florence Mutesi thanked the residents of Gasyita and Karongi District for their partnership with RWAMREC through Prevention+ project on the journey of continued effort in fighting gender-based violence in the sector and the entire District of Karongi.
“It is evident that women here are happy and there are no more reports of violence against women in this sector after the trainings of both Men and Women by RWAMREC through Prevention+. We strongly urge all development partners, public and private sector institutions, and the citizens of Rwanda to continue to actively contribute to the great progress in the empowerment of women and girls” She said.
“RWAMREC through Prevention+ has trained women and men in the fight against GBV in this District, plus we have also trained boys and girls through a campaign, dubbed ‘Boys4change’ that has seen model clubs created in schools in the districts to share roles and responsibilities in the family which has had a big impact here” Mutesi added.
Prevention+/Partnering with Men and women to End GBV is a project designed to be implemented in four countries - Rwanda, Uganda, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Middle East and Northern African region, from 2016 to 2020, in collaboration with Promundo, Rutgers and Sonke Gender justice. In Rwanda the project is implemented by RWAMREC and its overall goal is GBV prevention in Karongi District aiming at creating a gender just society by transforming harmful social norms that drive GBV; and ensuring that these changes are rooted in a legal system that supports them. At the individual level, the project’s main targets are young people in schools and couples through the Parents evening dialogue committees.
Reaching the couples is done through first building knowledge and the capacity of the Parents evening dialogue committees, in charge of the dialogues at village level. In total there are 537 villages in Karongi; and each village has a PED committee of 7 people; making it a total of 3,759 PED committee members. These will all be trained. After training, the PED committees are expected to reach unto the couples sensitizing them on issues of gender and helping them to solve issues of GBV found in their communities. The training has already been offered to almost half of the members of the PED committees; and training will be ongoing until May 2018.
Although much has been done to support rural women in Rwanda, challenges still exist. Some of these challenges include the fact that some rural women lack the capacity and knowledge needed to start and maintain income generating activities; and 47% of rural women, especially those heading families, are living in poverty.
Rwanda has ensured gender equity in all governance policies, including budget allocation as well as ensuring gender sensitive provisions in national constitution.
Rwanda has the highest representation of women in the Parliament - 64 per cent, [compared to the average of 21 per cent for the rest of the world while 40 per cent of women occupy cabinet in Rwanda.
By Florence MUTESI.