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After next year’s election in Rwanda, women hope they will take around two thirds of the seats in parliament.
It would be an ambitious dream for equality campaigners in many countries, but after the 1994 genocide, women made up 70 percent of Rwanda’s population.
Rwanda became the first country in the world with a female majority in parliament after last year’s election.
Solange Tuyisenge has a rural constituency and has been a legislator for about four years. She says even more can be done to give women even more political clout.
“We cannot say that we have empowered all women; we still have a long way to go,” she told Reuters Africa Journal.
“We still have girls and women who need representation, to be spoken for.”
She says she believes changing the mindsets of Rwandans is the key, so they “understand that the woman of the 40s is not the same as the current woman, a woman is not only to bear children or stay in the kitchen, there is development”.
Rwanda brought in constitutional reforms to boost the number of female parliamentarians, as well as supporting other projects to develop opportunities for women – such as encouraging them to take up farming.
“Well, personally, the initiative to empower women in Rwanda has really made it possible for me to develop,” Alphonsine Umwubahimana, whose husband was killed was killed in 1994, told Africa Journal.
She signed up for a farming programme, which gave her three dairy cows. She now has 15 and employs seven male labourers.
A government initiative called ‘Vision 2020′ is intended to transform Rwanda into a middle income country, with a healthy annual growth rate of seven percent.
Rwanda sent hundreds of its soldiers into eastern Congo on Tuesday in what the neighbours have described as a joint operation against Hutu rebels who have been at the heart of 15 years of conflict. Details are still somewhat sketchy, with Rwanda saying its soldiers are under Congolese command but Kinshasa saying Kigali’s men have come as observers.
Evidence on the ground suggests something more serious. United Nations peacekeepers and diplomats have said up to 2,000 Rwandan soldiers crossed into Congo. A Reuters reporter saw hundreds of heavily armed troops wearing Rwandan flag patches moving into Congo north of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. The world’s largest U.N. peacekeeping mission is, for now, being kept out of the loop.