Twenty years ago, after a 100 days of slaughter, Rwanda’s ethnic war left the country in ruins. So many men had been killed that women made up 70% of the population. The boys who grew up during the struggle watched as their mothers faced enormous hardships to feed their families. The task wasn’t easy as much of the societal structure had disappeared. Of the 785 judges that had existed prior to the conflict, only 20 survived. Women faced the almost impossible task of rebuilding their nation from its ashes. Fortunately, they rose to the challenge. (“The Rise of Rwanda’s Women,” by Swanee Hunt, Foreign Affairs, May/June, 2014, pg. 153)
When they were old enough, the children of these remarkable woman worked as their partners and the authority of their mothers and sisters became a part of the political mindset. Laws were crafted that required 30% of office holders to be women. What happened next was that those with experience gave up their safe offices to enable younger females to take their place. Then, they ran for the remaining open positions. By this strategy, women garnered 49% of seats in the lower house. (Ibid, pg. 155)
Under female governance, the economy has grown 8% annually. Life expectancy has increased from 48 to 58 years. Girls as well as boys receive primary and secondary educations and corruption is low. (Ibid pg. 151)
Men in Rwanda know they have nothing to fear from the mothers and sisters who saved the country. Nor do they need to be convinced that women can govern. Unfortunately leaders in other African nations and the Middle East are too busy making war to note these women’s achievements.
(Picture of Rwanda’s parliament courtesy of atlantablackstar.com)