Women as Catalysts for Change in Rwanda

“Imagine coming to work, and having to sit next to the wife of the man who killed your husband or the woman whose partner is living in exile after murdering your brother.”

This is the reality that many women faced in Rwanda, as the country strove to re-unite after the 1994 genocide. For those who were lucky, the cause of death for family members was explained and perpetrators were named. The unlucky ones will never learn when their loved ones died or how.

As a recent BBC article points out, the women of Rwanda have stepped up to set aside differences to create a cohesive culture. No longer is ethnicity considered a factor in who one befriends or works alongside. Nor is one’s gender a hindrance in getting a job – since the start of post-genocide Rwanda, the government has worked towards more women in roles that were traditionally for men.

In the post-genocide constitution, 30% of government positions were required to be held by women. Rwanda has become one of the few countries in the world where women currently hold a majority in political office – with 56% of the Parliament seats covered by a female.

Women have a different role to play in peace-keeping situations. Traditionally seen as more nurturing and caring than men, women have a strong emphasis on equality, education, health, and family concerns. One aspect of their role within peace-keeping is to eradicate discrimination of all aspects – and to help people accept others who may be different from them.

To read the article that BBC wrote on how women have played a strong role in rebuilding Rwanda, click here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20727127 (Article is also source for opening quote)