Wake up Sudan, more women needed in your government - Rwandan women offer a blueprint
The genocide in Rwanda literally left the women behind to pick up the pieces. After the violence subsided in 1994, 70 percent of the remaining population of Rwanda was women. If communities were going to survive, and if the country was ever going to recover, it was up to them to make it happen. They forced themselves to face the inconceivable and they rebuilt. It was women who cleared the dead bodies from the streets; women who rebuilt the homes and women who solved the national orphan crisis -- more than 500,000 children with nowhere to go. Nearly every woman took at least one child into her home.Zainab Salbi is the founder and CEO of Women for Women International, an organization that helps women in war-torn regions rebuild their lives by giving them financial and emotional support, job skills training, rights education, access to capital and assistance for small business development. www.womenforwomen.org
The government of Rwanda was quick to acknowledge the significance of women in the rebuilding process. In 1996, President Paul Kagame mandated that 30 percent of the parliamentary seats be designated for women. Kagame stressed that he saw them as key agents in the country's reconstruction, and argued that the government must train, support and mobilize them. As we see from today's revived Rwanda, he was right on target.
Rwandan women represent 49.8 percent of the country's lower house of parliament, a larger percentage than any other country in the world. Women also occupy nearly 50 percent of the positions in Rwanda's ministries from the village to the province to the national government level.
Thus, Rwanda was the obvious and fitting location for the 2007 Women Parliamentarians International Conference, under way now, whose theme is "Gender, Nation Building, and the Role of Parliaments." More than 400 world leaders and dignitaries have gathered in Kigali, among them, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of the Republic of Liberia, Gertrude I. Mongella, president of the Pan African Parliament, and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.
Source: ComingAnarchy.com - Women and Political Development in Africa - where this insightful comment was posted Feb 26 2007:
snow said:Well said. Thanks.
Very interesting. Certainly makes alot of sense. I've always figured that a society that doesn't allow its women to step forward is one that is leaving half their talent un/underdeveloped (not to say that it doesn't take talent to raise children and run households, but that women can have an influential public life as well as a private one). In this day and age, no country can hope to get a competitive edge when half the population is not allowed or restricted from participating outside the home. To me, its a question of taking advantage of talents and skills rather than a gender equality one.
Note, Feb 26 2007: New deputy UN chief is a woman!