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YWCA & Oxfam Rwanda partnering to promote women’s rights in Rwanda

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Women in Rwanda are at the core of the country’s development and with this in mind, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA- Rwanda) and Oxfam Rwanda program have embarked on promoting women’s rights to ensure this achievement.

Through the implementation of their new project-“involvement of men, women and women elected leaders in preventing gender based violence and promoting women’s rights” they will ensure that Rwandan women and girls enjoy equal rights, opportunity and live a life free of discrimination.

Though Rwanda stands out among countries that have established policies and laws favoring women empowerment, the two organizations want to ensure that these laws are effectively implemented.

Oxfam conducted a review of gender laws and social norms to identify key gaps impending women to fully enjoy their sexual and reproductive health rights as provided by the Maputo chapter.

The study provided baseline information which will be the basis for comparison with mid-term and end term review findings.

It is in this regard that YWCA and the National Women’s Council (NWC) organized a two-day training workshop from in Rulindo district, Northern Province last month to discuss and validate women’s rights framework and barriers in the national gender laws and social norms that continue to impede the process of implementing gender equality in Rwanda.

The training brought together decision makers, district officials such as vice mayors in charge of social affairs, directors of health unit, Gender and family promotion officials from Muhanga, Gicumbi and Rulindo districts and other key stakeholders.

Findings and outcomes

The meeting shared and validated the findings from the review of gender laws and socio-cultural norms, coming up with strategies to remove the barriers so that women can fully enjoy their sexual and reproductive health rights.

The participants also validated the Kinyarwanda version of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Human and People’s rights on the rights of women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) and agreed on supporting the women’s council to implement the Sexual Reproductive Health Rights) in the protocol.

The meeting also validated the Oxfam Gender Justice Strategy Review areas of women’s participation in decision making in covered districts and identify gaps in access to essential services by women and girls.

Key partners and stakeholders agreed on ownership of the Oxfam Gender strategy, the need to have an increased understanding of the Maputo Protocol, and better understanding of the gender gaps and socio-norms so as to address them effectively.

This will complement the recently launched HeForShe campaign, a global campaign that will see Rwandan men engage as agents of change for the achievement global gender equality.

Women make 52% of Rwanda’s population and to undermine their contribution towards development amounts to disrupting the country’s development agenda, according to President Paul Kagame.

“Women and girls are our mothers and sisters, why should we debate on having their deserved rights, the abuse of women and girls is a setback to Africa’s development and whoever is involved should be punished for the crimes,”  President Kagame said earlier this year.

The government has ratified most of the gender equality conventions and has set three goals for the next years to 2020- to bridge the digital divide, increase the number of women in technical skills education, and eradicate Gender Based Violence from its roots.

Statistics show that Rwanda’s policies and programs have empowered women in various levels of leadership and economic activity.

For example women make up 34% of the Rwandan parliament, 46% of Rwanda’s local government administrative positions, 18% of land is registered by men while 26% is registered by women; 39% have community savings (SACCO) bank accounts with a 26% granted credit loans, and 46% have Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP) loans.

YWCA and Oxfam have a goal of ensuring all Rwandan women are involved in Rwanda’s development.

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