President Paul Kagame has challenged the world parliamentarians that for the world to have peaceful societies, women must be engaged and be allowed to play participatory roles and positions equal to those that are enjoyed by men.
The head of state said these while addressing the ongoing 145th summit of the Inter-parliamentary Union held in Kigali Convention Centre which is running under the theme of Gender equality and gender-sensitive parliament as drivers of change for a more resilient and peaceful world.
Kagame said Rwanda’s women have played a critical role in the liberation struggle and lauded their outstanding role in participating in peacekeeping operations in Africa and across the continent.
“In Rwanda, women played a critical role in the liberation struggle. Women remain a fundamental part of Rwanda’s transformation journey with participating in peacekeeping operations across the African continent. Context matters and there is no fixed quick solution to build inclusive societies.” Kagame said, emphasizing that “women are the backbone of resilient and peaceful societies.”
He further challenged the parliamentarians to draw strategies that enable women to participate in the decision-making organs.
“The world parliaments exist to protect the interest of the citizens and this project cannot be made without the full participation of women in our parliaments, especially in leadership positions,” Kagame added.
“Setting quarters takes us a step closer to equal representation but does not represent address the full spectrum in the parliament and societies at large,” he added emphasizing “We need strong legal and policy framework in place with an emphasis on the implementation and results.
In addition, Kagame called men to actively join hands in the campaign to empower women instead of playing a passive role.
“On another hand, however, one thing is certain is a shared responsibility and men have a duty to speak not be just bystanders. This is particularly important to combat the negative perceptions of some men who sustain quo,” he said.
In his concluding remarks, Kagame urged MPs a take-home kit in their respective countries to go and wage a war against the trending genocide ideology, racism and divisionism in what he described as “a growing threat to peace and security globally”.
“I reiterate the role of the parliament in the fight against the genocide ideology; genocide denial and revisionism which are becoming a growing threat to peace and security globally. Social media is partly responsible but the truth is that hate speech and misinformation have persisted for a long time,” he said.
“Collaboration between parliaments is needed to work on all these challenges to criminalize all forms of dehumanization and racism worldwide, I have to set that the topical issues you selected, peace, democracy, and cooperation are very important. There is no individual country, no region, no part of this world that claim to have it all.” Kagame said.
Rwanda is one of the few countries with young parliamentarians with half of its deputies under 45 years old.
A percentage of 35% of MPs who attends the IPU Assembly are women, compared with an average of 7% of the attendants in 1978.