Despite polygamy being illegal in Rwanda, there are still cases where a man is found to have two, sometimes even three wives, and he is not legally married to any of them. This can create quite some conflict in the family, especially when it comes to matters of succession, land ownership and financial matters.
When it comes to implementing policies concerning social welfare – for instance the measures taken in recent years by the Rwandan government to improve nutrition – the decision-makers will most often target women. The philosophy is simple: contrary to men, if you can reach the women, you reach the entire family.
On Monday, the Gender Monitoring Office (GMO) and the Rwanda Women Parliamentary Forum (FFRP) held a meeting aiming at enhancing their partnership and information sharing on gender matters.
Since the last parliamentary elections, Rwanda has been the first country in the world where women hold a majority in one of the chambers of parliament – with 56% in the chamber of deputies. There are also a good number of top female officials in the executive, whether as Ministers or heads of institutions.
For any girl or woman to be able to really be the person she was meant to be and reach her full potential, perceptions of the community, of her fellow girls and women, and the way she perceives herself are vital.
When Elizabeth Dearborn Davis and Dave Hughes co-founded the Akilah Institute for Women in 2009, they aimed at equipping women with skilled they need to play their role in economic development.
There has been a long-held belief in our societies that power and leadership belongs to men. In recent years though, there has been a shift in thinking, with men being more than willing to rally behind more qualified and deserving women vying for leadership positions. Evidence of this new phenomenon is the rise of women to the presidency in Liberia, Malawi and Brazil; as well as to the top leadership of global finance institutions.
“I don’t want to report him to the police,” mumbles Nikuze as she sits down, bleeding in the mouth where two teeth have been knocked out by her husband.
While the entire world will celebrate Women’s Day next Thursday, in Rwanda it will mark the start of a month-long campaign to promote women’s emancipation.
The role of men and women is always a sensitive subject, but when it is put in the context of marriage and household duties, it becomes a real hot potato, especially in African societies where women’s emancipation is a relatively recent phenomenon.