Rwanda: Visible progress yet power is still a male preserve

Equality is championed in Rwanda but real influence belongs to the president

The World Today Updated 4 January 2021 Published 1 April 2015 2 minute READ

Susan Thomson

Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, Colgate University and author of Whispering Truth to Power: Everyday Resistance to Reconciliation in Post-Genocide Rwanda

Since Rwanda’s emergence from the horrors of genocide it has blazed a trail in gender equality. After taking power in July 1994, the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front prioritized women in public life and, following the 2013 elections, 64 per cent of parliamentarians are now women – the highest percentage in the world.

Women hold nine of 20 cabinet seats, including the foreign affairs portfolio. New laws provide ordinary women with rights previously denied to them, including the right to own land, to open a bank account and to start a business.

The government sees women as critical partners in alleviating rural poverty and diversifying the economy, moving from dependence on agriculture to a more knowledge-based one.

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