In Rwanda, many people have been working tirelessly to improve the lives of women. Though significant progress has been made, there is still much to do in order to achieve equality. One step in that direction was the allocation of Rwf 7.2 billion to the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion in the 2017/2018 fiscal year. While money cannot change the way that women and their roles in society are viewed, it can help to implement programs that do just that.
Pamela Mudakikwa is the communications officer at the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion. She explained that the money would be used to focus on the promotion of gender equality, to place family welfare at the center of national development, to fight gender-based violence, to promote and protect child rights, and to mobilize women to participate in development programs.
In response to this allocation of funds, women’s activist Olive Uwamariya believes that celebration is in order. She explains that she has seen other countries promise to invest in women but ultimately fail to follow through. The allocation of money to the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, to Uwamariya, means that the Rwandan government plans to keep its promise to women.
Uwamariya observes, “So this shows how committed the government is and as much as a lot has already been done, the government recognises that not only do we need to secure the gains achieved in promoting gender equality, but we also need to continue addressing socio-economic inequalities that Rwandan women continue to face, especially rural women who are most vulnerable.”
Uwamariya points out the fact that many cases of violence against women go unreported, and that women and children often face violence within and out of their homes. While the allocated money can support programs to combat gender inequality, money alone cannot fix the problems that women face on a daily basis. To do this, it is important to address the root causes of gender violence and inequality, and to eradicate these roots in order to reach equality.
Caroline Namara, president of Rwanda Toastmasters International, observes on a more hopeful note, “Over the years, lives of women have been transformed from being victims to leading actors in both public and private sectors with the support of such a budget. With that, and looking at the budget this year, I have no doubt that more lives, especially for women and girls, are going to be affected positively. More opportunities and policies that support their growth will be reinforced and implemented.” Women in Rwanda have come a long way in regards to equality, and the budget for this fiscal year will play a huge role in ensuring that this trend continues positively.
Problems like gender inequality cannot be solved overnight; however, the steps that Rwanda is taking with its budget should help Rwandan women to continue to gain freedom and responsibility. And though money alone cannot solve inequality, the attitude behind the budget is a big part of what will finally give Rwandan women what they deserve.
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