WOMEN & THE RWANDAN PARLIAMENT  1



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“A striking colour is just another way of saying I am here!” – Mehmet Murat Ildan

 

It’s International Women’s Day and it makes me think back on my recent trip to Rwanda.  A country where women have been given – and taken up – an amazing role in the rebuilding of a country.

I was walking past the Rwandan Parliament in Kigali. It’s not fancy. It’s not new. In fact, it’s the same building which took a hail of bullets during the 1994 genocide.

But that’s not its primary interest to me. Not today. Today I’m thinking about the legislation passed in that parliament in 2003 to change the constitution. When men supported a change to the law that would see it become mandatory for women to fill 30% of any Rwandan committee. Including the parliament.

Can you imagine that? That kind of affirmative action?

So what has been the result? Has the parliament struggled to find women capable of filling the seats? Has the electorate resisted voting for women?

No. Not at all.

Statistics tell us that women now constitute 63% of the Rwandan parliament. The highest percentage in the world. It’s extraordinary.

And this change in community attitude and leadership composition is spreading its way to the grassroots.

Women, even the poorest women, are standing up to start businesses, participate in community decision making, and even fill the position of village chief.

It’s a challenge for First World thinking.

But surely not one we can ignore.
Kelley @ Foxglove Project 🦊🌍❤️

 


About Kelley

Kelley is a speaker, author, overseas aid worker and perpetual student. She is passionate about women and gender issues, both in the local and international context, which underpins her enthusiasm for kinwomen and its contribution to women ‘living their finest life’. In 2014 Kelley completed a Masters in International and Community Development before establishing The Foxglove Project. Foxglove is a registered charity focused on supporting international development projects that are sustainable and driven by indigenous leadership. Kelley’s paid work requires her to travel extensively to evaluate and support projects supported by Australian funds. This experience and networking enables Foxglove to partner with outstanding overseas agencies delivering real opportunities for the poor and vulnerable to lead independent self-determined lives. Kelley combines these passions with a love of family and faith. Across more than 30 years of marriage, Kelley and her husband have worked through many of the challenges of building a relationship while raising three sons. Their boys have now finished high school changing the dynamics of family life and relationships. One of her great joys is sharing parenting lessons and learning from good and bad (sometimes disastrous) experiences. She uses humour and common sense to talk about the everyday challenges facing parents in today’s context.


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