Women participation in leadership roles is one of the areas where Rwanda has been recognized at the international level with big numbers of women in parliament under the Paul Kagame leadership.
Though this initiative has faced some criticisms on the basis of filling up number, the recent legislative elections in September 2013, have seen yet another world record of 64 per cent of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies taken by women compared to 56percent in the previous 2008 polls.
At least 51 out of the 80 seats in the Lower House will be occupied by women. Majority of the women elected in the September voting were from the ruling party Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) with 41 seats out of the 53 openly contested seats; meaning that RPF has 20 women representing a 49 percent.
Other parties that came in include the Social Democratic Party (PSD) with four women, and the Liberal Party (PL) snatched seats out of the candidates elected on each of the party tickets. Independents had two women on the campaign trial but none of the made it to the final race- however they conceded defeat and said they will run next time.
The Rwandan Constitution of 2003 provides enormous opportunity for both women and men to occupy not less than 30 percent of all decision-making organs. In addition, the current senate has 10 women out of the current 25 members (representing 40 per cent), and the overall number of women in both the lower and upper chamber of deputies now constitute 58 per cent.
Some world critics have said that Rwanda fills up numbers in parliament but they are not competent, however the Forum for Women Politicians (FFPR) believes that the women have a role in their country’s development and thus the policy of gender equality is deemed necessary to promote women on competence level.
Alphonsine Mukarugema (RPF) who has been in the game for long says that the women in parliament, especially in the house of deputies (lower chamber of parliament), we find that during this tenure, there was something extra ordinary because it is the first time in history to have a big number of women in parliament. And this big numbers was vital in enabling us to attain tangible results so as to help the Rwandan family, especially women, to find solutions to their problems.
“Our great number [of women in parliament] helps a lot with pro-women legislation”, she explains. “We initiated a number of laws, namely to fight against gender-based violence, and made amendments of existing laws that had some injustice in them. So today, girls are able to inherit the property of their parents, including land,” she adds.
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