The issue of women’s participation in politics is no longer in contention. What is central to the debate now is how to make their participation effective enough to influence the governance agenda and make it responsive to women’s interests, needs and concerns.
The fact that women have remained underrepresented in politics is obviously not only unfair and unjust but it also renders democracy a sham and impoverishes the political process to the disadvantage of all.
What Africa needs most at this time is transformative political leaders who understand the real concept of leadership. Hence our call for women to get into political leadership in increasing numbers. Women being the mothers with the unique qualities of loving, caring, nurturing and patience could be the saviours of our continent.
The difficulties faced by women in terms of under-representation and unequal participation in decision-making and governance is not a unique challenge to my country Kenya only many other countries in Africa and elsewhere face similar difficulties.
However, with majority parliamentary presence, constitutional support and a drive to tackle gender-based violence, Rwanda seems a very good place to be a woman today!
Women’s rights in Rwanda have progressed hugely in the last 20 years ago: an impressive 64% of parliamentarians are women! This is the highest proportion of any parliament in the world –gender rights are enshrined in its constitution, and a swath of laws have given women the right to inherit land, share the assets of a marriage and obtain credit. Many girls as boys receive primary and secondary education, maternal mortality is lower and the birth rate is falling.
In Rwanda, there is also a drive to rid the country of gender-based violence which is very rampant in most countries in the world, one-stop centres are being rolled out, while electronic billboards in Kigali declare: “Together we can stop sexual harassment”. Isn’t this a country where every woman would feel safe to work and live?
I am also very proud and humbled by my association with the Women in Parliaments Global Forum (WIP) as the WIP Kenyan Ambassador, because WIP is an international and non-partisan foundation established with the purpose of advancing society by building a network between Women in Parliaments. WIP is totally determined to encourage and educate society to lean more on the untapped potential and talent of women and in ensuring that there is an increase of women representative numbers in Parliaments around the globe.
I am humbled to be in this Rwandan delegation, I will come back to Kenya the wiser!
Long Live WIP!
Hon. Florence Mutua (Member of the Parliament of Kenya), WIP Kenyan Ambassador
* Dear participant, WIP would like to know about your motivation for attending the meeting! Therefore, if you want to share your thoughts about the WIP Summer Summit in Rwanda with our audience, please send a short statement to [hide-email=”email@example.com”] by Friday 27 June.