The First Lady of Rwanda Mrs. Jeannette Kagame has outlined challenges that impede the development of africacan young women and made suggestions on how they can work around them.
Mrs Jeannette Kagame was the key speaker at the African Union High Level Beijing+25 Global Intergenerational Dialogue on November 25 where she explicitly shared the women’s development setback.
“Critical areas of concern that put African young women and girls at a disadvantage continue to be linked to poverty, inequality of economic opportunity, as well as exclusion from decision-making,” the First Lady said.
“It is disheartening to observe that deep-seated negative traditional and cultural practices, including negative social norms, still persist to this day in some of our countries.”
On this note, the First Lady quoted a research of the UN report that confirms these inequalities and social constructs which suggest that a man is way better than a woman.
The recent UN study found that, half of the world’s men and women feel that men make better political leaders, and that men have more right to a job when jobs are scarce, while over 40% feel that men make better business executives.
“And in the 13 African countries included in the study, the level of bias is even higher,” Mrs Kagame said.
The First Lady further said, “As a mother and grand-mother young at heart, I feel that this Dialogue today is not only timely; it is essential. We need inspiration from our youth to dismantle these detrimental beliefs and norms, and we must also challenge the fact that gender equality is yet to be achieved.”
The First Lady is shocked that these challenges still persist in 2020, a year that coincides with the silver jubilee of Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
In September 1995, the Fourth World Conference on Women adopted this declaration which includes commitments of world leaders on promoting women emancipation and development.
The Governments participating in the conference were determined to, among others, “advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity.”
They also recognized that the status of women “has advanced in some important respects in the past decade but that progress has been uneven, inequalities between women and men have persisted and major obstacles remain, with serious consequences for the well-being of all people.”
Two decades and a half later, the First Lady of Rwanda is concerned that the challenges remain the same.
“Why should we, in 2020, continue to accept the facts that: (1) globally, women aged 25-34 are 25% more likely than men to live in extreme poverty; that (2) men still control more than three-quarters of seats in parliament around the world; and that (3) girls and women continue to be subjected to female genital mutilation,” she asked.
If Rwanda Can Defy the Odds, Other Countries Can
The First Lady told participants that Rwanda has done a lot to address issues that hinder youth’s development and it benefits both men and women.
She said tha the National Strategy for Transformation has integrated as one of its critical components, a national skills development and employment promotion strategy. And it has mandated the Rwanda Development Board, to provide effective oversight and coordination in the skills development and employment promotion of the country’s young population, with a view to promote capacity development strategies and actions to respond to public and private sector needs to address youth unemployment.
Mrs Kagame further used figures to show the situation of the youth’s welfare in Rwanda.
A survey indicated that almost 45% of public servants are under the age of 35, while 79% are under the age of 45; in addition, 38% of public servants under the age of 30 are young women.
The First Lady told the youth to put their voice high and to work towards advocy and promotion of financing for response and prevention initiatives, to leverage available technology, and to continue and initiate new dialogues as means to educate, shift mindsets, and disseminate potentially life-saving information, including relevant laws and rights.
She promised that the youth won’t walk this journey alone.
“Rest assured, that we are working alongside key partners to provide you the room and resources to come-up with solutions to the issues that matter to you most,” she said.
The virtual meeting was also attended by Ms Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, Vice-President of South Sudan, Ambassador Diop, Chief of Staff – African Union, Ms Kate Hampton, Chief Executive Officer of the Children’ s Investment Fund Foundation and Ms Aya Chebbi, African Union Commission Envoy on Youth.