- A three-day seminar in Kigali aims at reinforcing the role of Rwandan women in the reconstruction and economic development of the country. New data show that, while women clearly make up the population majority in Rwanda, they remain underrepresented in decision-making processes.
The Rwandan Ministry of Women's Affairs, the Rwanda Women Leader's Caucus and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are holding the three-day seminar in the Rwandan capital, focusing on women's underestimated role in the country's economy and development.
The seminar is bringing together Rwandan women living in the Diaspora and those in the country with the aim of "constructing frank and constructive relations that will help strengthen and consolidate peace and national unity," an IOM release says.
The project has ambitious aims. During the seminar, the mostly female delegates are discussing how to increase awareness amongst the Rwandan population and the international community about the important role women play in the prevention of conflicts, peace and national reconciliation. Rwanda has been a good example of women's role in peace-creating efforts.
The delegates also aim at engaging women in a constructive dialogue, given their vital role in society, to achieve a climate of peace and prevent future conflicts, by the creation of jobs and increased revenue and national economic development.
A further aim is to discuss how one can combat the so-called "brain drain" in Rwanda by creating jobs for highly qualified professionals. Far too many of Rwanda's most able women and men are working in industrialised countries as they do not find attractive job opportunities at home.
Finally, the Kigali congress also aims at reinforcing women's role in society by strengthening their role at the community level. As in most African countries, men still dominate decision-making processes at all levels also in Rwanda.
In Rwanda, women make up 52 percent of the total population, with 34 percent of households headed by women. At the district level, 23 percent of elected officials are women, but there are only five women in the central government and 17 at the National Assembly.
On the last day of the seminar, the participants will finalise a plan of action designed to create a strong cooperation network between Rwandan women in the country and those living abroad and a micro credit scheme to benefit individual women and groups for the creation of small businesses.
Yesterday, IOM's Deputy Director General, Mrs Ndioro Ndiaye, opened the Kigali seminar by telling participants: "All of us are aware of the effects that the tragic events of 1994 had on this country and its people. Women were the first victims during the crisis because they had to guard their homes and their family while the husbands were away."
- Today Rwandan women need to be taken into account, Mrs Ndiaye added. "They are an active part of society with skills and knowledge that can contribute to peace, stability, and national unity; vital factors to achieve economic development."
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