Women groups are reportedly hailing President Paul Kagame
government's gender equality policy after 44 women were elected to Rwanda's
80-seat parliament in this month's election. This makes Rwanda the first
country in the world where women outnumber men in parliament, according to
results released so far by the country's electoral commission. Some political
observes say the number of women parliamentarians could even be higher if three
seats, which are reserved for the physically challenged and youth
representatives go to women.
groups say it is a welcome development, which would further boost the
confidence of young girls in Rwandan society. Shyaka
Kanuma is the editor of the focus newspaper. He tells reporter Peter Clottey
from the capital, Kigali that Rwandans are proud of how far women have come
after the country's 1994 genocide.
are proud that we have really been the first to break so to speak where the
women have broken the glass ceiling with so many numbers in Rwanda's
parliament. Naturally, Rwanda is a patriarchal society and politics was very
much a male thing, but now it's like we are enlightened. We are no longer in this
backward sort of thinking that women are only good for the kitchen or household
chores, and honestly people are proud of that," Kanuma pointed out.
said Rwandans, by overwhelmingly voting for female parliamentarians, are
reposing great confidence in the abilities of women.
voted for women in greater numbers and I think they were voting for the best
representatives they could think of. So, if it turns out that women are even in
greater numbers than men, then you know it's kind of surprising, but at the
same time we feel proud of ourselves," he said.
said after the 1994 genocide in which scores of Rwandans were killed with women
reportedly the most affected, the government came out with policies to promote
has some progressive laws, especially on gender equality and women empowerment.
And it has really been a process, which has made girls so empowered even before
this, and this is going to make them more confident of themselves and more
ready to throw their hats in the ring as far as matter so the office are
concerned and vying for offices. You can see that women are setting themselves
ever in so many ways and this is really good for the society," Kanuma noted.
reiterates that women were at the receiving end of the country's recently
think it is good on another level, and that is women tended to suffer a lot of
horrible crimes especially during the genocide. But let me tell you that the
issue of electing them was more of something to do with merits, and they are
going to feel meritorious as time goes on, and you can just see that it's going
to be good," he said.
said Rwandans are aware that women play a major role in every aspect of the
society, including the various arms of government.
dynamics are simple, you have a society here that recognizes that you cannot
possibly leave the other half of your population and leave them out of the
political process. That is not possible. So, you have to put in place an
enabling environment and encourage even more women to vie for high office. So,
that is the only real dynamic here. If I may add if we carry out a
comprehensive census today, I think you would find out that women actually
might be outnumbering men. Now, no one has the exact figures as of now, but
imagine leaving such a segment of the population out of high office, out of
political decision-making, and it doesn't make sense. So, women have to be
included, they have to be encouraged in all ways. And once they are encouraged
and they come out, you will find out that they are actually as talented as
men," Kanuma said.