President Paul Kagame has called on men to be more conscious
of gender if more strides are to be made towards narrowing the gender gaps.
The head of state was speaking at the opening ceremony of the three-day 2019 Global Gender Summit, in Kigali.
The 4th edition of the Global Gender Summit and the first to be held in Africa, brings together over 2000 delegates, including Heads of State and Government, Development partners, NGOs and academia to share experience on how to address challenges that hinder gender equality.
“Women are our mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters. Whenever women gain, everybody gains, and nobody loses,” President Kagame said.
He added, “Being a man in a position of leadership, at any level, means never having to think about your gender. But being a woman leader means always having to think about how gender impacts your work. I think it is past time for men to become much more conscious of gender, so that women can afford to enjoy the same freedom, to just get on with business, that men take for granted,”
Speaking about Rwanda’s progress in gender-mainstreaming, President Kagame says that despite the progress made in terms of enacting gender-sensitive policies and investment, more works needs to be done in changing mindsets to continue making the change.
“We got it from the beginning that there is a lot of work to do in terms of narrowing the gender gaps. From the onset, we made investments to make sure women are a central part of our population in terms of the development of our country.
Good progress has been made for women, in health, education, business, entrepreneurship. But there is still a lot of work to do, we are not yet where we need to be.”
Make Activism Count
The opening of the Global Gender Summit also marks the start of the annual Sixteen Days of Activism campaign.
President Kagame noted that for the 16 days of activism to leave an impact, there is a need for activists to be more organised.
“We must give good and real meaning to activism, it is not just making noise and being excited. (Activism) It is about the management of expectations, identifying relevant things you ought to do, getting more organized and really deliberating and doing things within our means to do, because there is a lot within our means that we don’t do,” He said.
Held under the theme "Unpacking constraints to gender equality", the 2019 Global Gender Summit takes place at the Kigali Convention Centre between 25-27 November 2019. It is hosted by the Government of Rwanda in collaboration with the African Development Bank.
The meeting focuses on three key dimensions to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment: scaling up innovative financing; fostering an enabling environment (legal, regulatory and institutional); and ensuring women’s participation and voices.