The Republic of Rwanda has the world’s highest proportion of females in government positions in proportion to the population. It is currently the only country with a female majority in the national parliament.
The Government of Rwanda is implementing Vision 2020, which aims at achieving middle-income status by 2020, while maintaining a strong commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Subsequently, the GDP growth rate for the period 2008-2012 has averaged 7.7 percent annually. Rwanda is among the 2013 top performers in terms of progress towards achieving the MDGs, as measured by the MDG Progress Index. Rwanda achieved an MDG Progress Index Score of 6 against an average of 3.88 amongst the low-income countries. Rwanda has made significant advances in national reconciliation, law and order, accountability and strengthening the national capacity for good governance.
The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) report of 2009 commended Rwanda for its positive progress in the adoption of 2003 constitution which enshrines a gender non-discrimination norm and the principle of gender equality which have triggered extensive legal reforms and removal of discriminatory provisions and the successful use of quotas in political and public life.
The role of women in realizing Vision 2020 is central to Rwanda’s development agenda. Rwanda’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment in reflected in the ratification and implementation of numerous international conventions and instruments including CEDAW, Beijing Platform for Action, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Millennium Development Goals, among others.
Conducive policy and legal frameworks for mainstreaming gender in socio-economic sectors are in place at all levels, including a National Gender Policy and gender-sensitive laws. Rwanda is the world leader in the proportion of women in parliament, with 64% representation.
Despite Rwanda’s success in female representation in parliament, women in Rwanda still face numerous challenges. Women’s literacy rates are lower than their male counterparts (60 and 70 percent respectively) and there are limitations to women accessing and controlling resources, managing businesses and participating in decision-making. Gender-specific roles still hamper women’s potential, with most of their time spent on unpaid domestic chores. Cultural barriers/patriarchy still present a serious hindrance to women’s empowerment. Unequal power relations between men and women, boys and girls undermine and diminish the social economic and political contributions of girls and women to their own development, that of their families, communities and the nation.
Violence against Women (VAW) remains a challenge in Rwanda. While the number of reported gender-based violence cases reduced from 5358 cases in 2008 to 1071 cases in 2012, Gender Based Violence (GBV) remains underreported, so the official statistics only reveal part of the problem.
UN Women Rwanda will focus on promoting women’s leadership through joint programmes with other UN agencies such as UNDP and UNFPA to support the gender machinery. We will also partner with the National Electoral Commission and Africa Centre for Transformative and Inclusive Leadership (ACTIL) to influence women’s leadership at all levels.
Women’s economic empowerment
In the area of Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE), UN Women Rwanda will leverage the regional programmes on leadership and WEE to reduce women’s vulnerability, inequalities and poverty. In this regard, UN Women in partnership with, FAO, IFAD and WFP will spearhead a more comprehensive UN system support to improve women’s economic welfare. The informal cross border trade will also be supported to enhance wealth creation for women, regional integration and food security.
UN Women Rwanda will collaborate with other UN agencies such as UNFPA and UNICEF to provide holistic services to gender based violence survivors through one-stop centres. UN Women Rwanda will also play a key role in humanitarian assistance by providing technical assistance to prevent and respond to GBV in refugee camps.
Peace and security
In the area of peace, security and humanitarian assistance, UN Women Rwanda will collaborate with agencies such as the police, defence force, UN agencies and civil society organizations to protect and promote human rights and eliminate all forms of violence.