'A fundamental right': UAE, Rwanda affirm commitment to gender equality on International Women's Day

The UAE's Presidential directive currently ensures that Emirati women must occupy 50 per cent of the Federal National Council’s (Parliament) seats


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Image for representative purposes
Image for representative purposes

Published: Wed 8 Mar 2023, 9:43 AM

Rwanda joins the United Arab Emirates and the rest of the world in spotlighting the remarkable progress in gender equality, as the global community marks International Women’s Day on Wednesday.

The celebration comes at a time when gender equality continues to gain momentum in the two friendly countries. The Women in Parliament 2022 Report by the Inter-Parliamentary Union ranks Rwanda and the UAE among the world’s six countries with gender parity in their lower or single house as of January 1, 2023.

Reflecting on Women’s Day, Emmanuel Hategeka, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the UAE, said: “Rwanda and [the] UAE share commitment to gender equality, and our two countries continue to be gender champions in their respective regions and globally as indicated in the Inter-Parliamentary Union 2022 report. Gender equality is enshrined in the longstanding vision of our two countries and is backed by good leadership. This International Women’s Day is a reminder that gender equality is a fundamental right and a backbone to just and inclusive development.”

Rwanda and the UAE have unleashed female potential through strong policies and regulatory frameworks. Rwanda’s constitution provides a requirement of a minimum quota of at least 30 per cent of women in decision-making institutions. Currently, Rwanda is ranked the first country globally to have the highest women representation in Parliament at 61.3 per cent.

On the other side, the UAE Presidential directive providing that Emirati women must occupy 50 per cent of the Federal National Council’s (Parliament) seats is a testament to the country's commendable commitment to gender equality.

In October 2022, parliamentarians from around the world adopted the Kigali Declaration for gender equality, which will see gender-sensitive parliaments as drivers of change for a more resilient and peaceful world, at the end of the 145th IPU Assembly in Kigali, Rwanda.

Rwanda’s journey of women empowerment

For close to three decades post the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, Rwanda positioned gender equality at the forefront of sustainable development. The country looks at gender equality more as a strategy for inclusive development, good governance and respect of human rights. For this cause, gender equality is embedded in different legal frameworks right from the Constitution, which highly positions respect of gender equality among its foundational principles.

The Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda of 2003 revised in 2015 provides for equal rights between women and men. Furthermore, the Law governing matrimonial regimes, donations and succession provides equal inheritance rights between boys and girls as well as equal property management among married couples; and the Law governing Land in Rwanda guarantees equal rights on land access, ownership and utilisation to both men and women.

The Government has championed equal access to education, healthcare, the labour market and all opportunities. The initiatives have paid off, resulting in Rwanda ranking as the best place to be a woman in Africa, and 6th globally, as per the Global Competitiveness Report 2015. It is the first country in Africa to bridge the gender gap according to World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2022. On security, Rwandan women’s contribution has gone beyond borders through peacekeeping missions. Rwanda is among the top contributing countries of Policewomen peacekeepers in UN missions.

In Rwanda and elsewhere in the world, promoting and sustaining gender equality and equity is a continuous journey. There are still multiple stereotypes and biases that need to be uprooted.

“Despite all the achievements towards gender equality, we still have common stereotypes and gender biases at the workplace, jobs and gender-based career orientation biases, behavioural biases that need to be eliminated right from the family level, at the national and global levels,” Ambassador Emmanuel Hategeka concluded.


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