Rwanda hosted Women in Parliament (WIP) 2014 Summer Summit bringing together delegates from 45 countries across the world.
The summit dubbed ‘The Spirit of Women in Parliaments: Advancing Society,’ tackled the success story of Rwandan women as political representatives alongside women political empowerment globally.
Since 2008 to 2013 Rwanda boosts of the highest figures of women in Parliament globally. Presently 64 percent of women occupy seats in the chamber of deputies.
Rwanda led the world with the highest number of women in Parliament at 56% for five years until last year when the number overwhelmingly rose with eight more digits.
Female leadership in Rwanda dates back to two decades before when the country had the tragic experience of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that claimed thousands and thousands of lives.
In her speech, during the summit on July 1, 2014 the First Lady of Rwanda, Jeannette Kagame recounted the journey of women in political empowerment and where their aspirations where drawn.
Jeannette said Rwanda as a whole is honored to welcome such a force of powerful women especially at this significant time of Rwanda’s journey – 20 years since the liberation from the genocidal regime.
As the country comes out of the 100 days of mourning, Jeannette salutes the women who shouldered an immense burden during this most tragic time, enduring horrors that would shake any human being to the core.
Worldwide, the average of women representation in the Lower House stands at 21.3 per cent, 18.8 per cent in the Upper House (Senate) and 20.9 in both Houses, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union figures released in July, last year.
Rwanda has three times the average in the Lower House, and double the worldwide average of the Senate. Women in the Senate now occupy 10 out of the current 25 members which represent 40 per cent.
Women continue to engage and thrive in most developmental programs of every sector in the country.
After the Genocide, women have played an important role in rebuilding the nation.
Beyond reconciliation and politics, women now occupy critical positions of leadership in business, education, health and all other sectors affecting the everyday lives of Rwandans.
At one point Rwanda, had a culture that did not allow women to speak in public. It was considered arrogant, not humble or disrespectful.
This brought fear among women of speaking in public because it was considered a shameful move.
Today it is normal for women to speak in meetings, for women even to be leaders in meetings and men have welcomed the change positively.
Concurrently, more than 30 percent of Rwandan households are headed by women— higher than regional neighbors Burundi, Malawi and Tanzania.
The government of Rwanda has played a major role in empowering women through a political model of gender equality, although cases of gender based violence still linger.
Looking beyond 2015 the Government’s vision target is for women to make up 40 per cent of all those in decision making positions.
As a resultant, Rwanda was equal second in the world on the 2009 Social Watch Gender Equity Index, with only Sweden having a higher score.
Gender parity at primary level has also been achieved, with girls’ net enrolment rate of 98 per cent, which is higher than for boys 95%, according to the Ministry of Education Statistics Yearbook 2012.
In a bid to bring aboard female involvement in all developmental spheres of the country— a move highly saluted by President Paul Kagame, wake up calls to encourage women have been sent across the country and beyond national.
Among others, Rwanda Last year hosted the first ever regional women conference which discussed the role of women in socio-economic development and women in business in order to share and exploit business opportunities in the whole East African Region.
Rwanda has so far made great strides in women empowerment by promoting gender equality, driven by government’s strong commitment.