The First Lady made the remarks yesterday at the virtual High-Level Inter-generational Dialogue on ‘Beijing+25 Young Women Manifesto’ to commemorate International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Twenty-five years ago, the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing set a path-breaking agenda for women’s rights.
As a result of the two-week gathering with more than 30,000 activists, representatives from 189 nations unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
This historic blueprint articulated a vision of equal rights, freedom and opportunities for women everywhere, no matter what their circumstances that continue to shape gender equality and women’s movements worldwide.
The Beijing Platform for Action envisioned a world where every woman and girl can exercise her freedoms and choices, and realize her rights, such as to live free from violence, to go to school, to participate in decisions and to earn equal pay for work of equal value.
As a defining framework for change, the Platform for Action made comprehensive commitments under 12 critical areas of concern including elimination of violence against women, women empowerment and gender equality among others.
The Dialogue on ‘Beijing+25 Young Women Manifesto’ coincided with the commemoration of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Participants delivered messages revolving around barriers hindering young women inclusive development as well as durable solution.
Young ladies appealed for advocacy to enhance equal rights to job and economic self-reliance reliance.
As she delivered keynote address, First Lady Jeannette Kagame highlighted the need for special attention to gaps hindering gender equality.
“We can no longer ignore existing gaps to improve the health and socio-economic indicators of our continent, gaps that slow down the meaningful engagement of our promising young minds, toward contributing to all political, social and economic processes. We need inspiration from our youth to dismantle these detrimental beliefs and norms, and we must also challenge the fact that gender equality is yet to be achieved, “she said.
First Lady explained that critical areas of concern that put African young women and girls at a disadvantage continue to be linked to poverty, inequality of economic opportunity, as well as exclusion from decision-making. She further stressed the need for gender equality and women empowerment which Jeannette Kagame said has been driving Rwanda’s transformation.
“It is disheartening to observe that deep-seated negative traditional and cultural practices, including negative social norms, still persist to this day in some of our countries,” she noted.
“Spearheaded by a sustained political will at the highest leadership level, gender equality and women’s empowerment has been the driving force for Rwanda’s vision and transformative agenda. In the last 25 years, my country, Rwanda, has made a deliberate choice to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment as an essential condition for attaining sustainable development,” stressed Jeannette Kagame.
The Gender Social Norms Index released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) this year reveals that, despite decades of progress closing the equality gap between men and women, close to 90 percent of men and women hold some sort of bias against women, providing new clues to the invisible barriers women face in achieving equality, and a potential path forward to shattering the Glass Ceiling.
According to the index, about half of the world’s men and women feel that men make better political leaders, and over 40 percent feel that men make better business executives and that men have more right to a job when jobs are scarce. 28 percent think it is justified for a man to beat his wife.
Among women between the 24-35 age brackets globally, 35% live in extreme poverty while men occupy ¾ in parliaments.
Rwanda’s constitution grants 30% women representation in decision making positions. Currently, women representation constitues 50% in the cabinet , 60% in the parliament and 38% in the Senate.
First Lady Jeannette Kagame said that Rwanda’s experience is evidencing that the youth has what it takes to accelerate the advancement of gender equality.
“Rest assured that we are working alongside key partners to provide you the room and resources to come-up with solutions to the issues that matter to you most.You are the backbone of our continent. And your demands shall be our commands,” she noted.
“We need you to: advocate, promote financing for response and prevention initiatives; leverage available technology; continue and initiate new dialogues to educate, shift mind-sets, and disseminate potentially life-saving information. Young Leaders of tomorrow, we are conscious that more than ever, we need your voices, your expertise and innovative minds,” she added.
Rwanda was commended for youth empowerment initiatives whereby almost 45% of public servants are under the age of 35, 79% are under the age of 45 while 38% of public servants under the age of 30 are young women.