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Inspiring Women Made Rwanda Rise

April 24, 2014 | By admin

In 1994, a genocidal mass slaughter took place in Rwanda for 100 days, killing 20% of the country’s total population, or an estimated 800,000 Rwandans. Since most men were killed and many of the perpetrators left to find refuge in other countries, 70% of the population that was left was women.

This year is the 20th anniversary of this horrific event in history, and the Institute for Inclusive Security is urging people to focus instead on the accomplishments of what the women did to rebuild and heal their nation.

Similar to most countries, Rwanda is traditionally a patriarchal society, but post-genocide, the women were left on their own to face the aftermath. Used to being housewives, Rwandan women formed local councils, tilled the land, build houses, buried the dead, etc. President Paul Kagame said, “Women stepped out and rolled up their sleeves when men were destroyed emotionally and psychologically.” Many positive changes happened after two decades, including more women holding political offices, increase in life expectancy, reduced poverty rate, and zero tolerance for sexual violence.

Many women are now holding government positions in Rwanda – 65% of parliament is women, making them the largest female legislative representation in the world; more than 40% in the cabinet; and more than 50% in the judiciary. Oda Gasinzigwa, member of the cabinet in Rwanda and minister of Gender and Family Promotion, said that having more women in power allowed them to give women more opportunity, may it be in education, economic, or security. Women can now own land, get inheritance, and get education they deserve.

One of the most iconic woman leader, the late Aloisea Inyumba, spearheaded programs to rebuild her country. Ambassador Swanee Hunt who also heads the Commission for Unity and Reconciliation, revealed that “Aloisea went from village to village helping victims articulate their tragedies. Later she covered the country again, preparing for the reintegration of almost 100,000 perpetrators released from prison.” Inyumba addressed important issues facing the nation such as health, education, and security. She pushed for giving homes to orphans and convincing families to adopt homeless youth, regardless of their ethnicity.

Aloisea Inyumba is only one of the many inspiring women who made Rwanda rise from the ashes. Check out the Institute’s online media package, How Women Rebuilt Rwanda, to know more about their fascinating stories.

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