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Women Taking a Lead: Progress Toward Empowerment and Gender Equity in Rwanda

Rakiya Omaar, Rachel Ibreck


Women are now visible and vocal in the political arena in Rwanda to an unprecedented degree. A series of policies to enhance their participation at all levels of governance in Rwanda has yielded dramatic results. Following the 2003 elections, Rwandas parliament is now close to gender parity, with 49% of female members, overtaking Sweden as the country with the greatest percentage of women legislators. In itself, this is an important victory for women, altering the face of Rwandese politics. Their national gains are accompanied by multiple initiatives at the level of local government and in civil society to promote womens involvement in decision-making and development activities.

This paper traces paths of struggle, detailing the opinions of women at the frontline. It provides an insight into the hardships endured by women in Rwanda over the past decade and their determination to overcome them. It celebrates their achievements and those of the political leaders who have supported reforms. Through a discussion of the concerns of womens representatives and advocates, some of the challenges inherent in implementing gender policies are exposed.

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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