Thursday, August 10, 2017
The US record on gender equality is dismal. Rwanda, largely as a consequence of the loss of men in the 1994 genocide, has made significant progress in the legal status of women. At that time, the population of Rwanda was 70% female. The Rwandan constitution ensures gender equality in all matters. In the 2013 elections, 64% of the members of parliament were female. Women are guaranteed three months paid maternity leave.
By contrast, the US guarantees no paid maternity leave. In the recent health care discussions, some men wanted to remove health care coverage for maternity. 86% of Rwandan women participate in the work force compared with 56% of US women. However, despite Rwandan laws requiring equality for women, true equality has not been achieved. Women earn 88 cents for every dollar earned by men. Significantly, Rwandan women experience domestic violence at the high rate of 1 in 3. Recently progress has been made in enforcing laws against abusive men, but the most significant barrier to stopping violence against women universally is men's culture in opposing gender equality. In a story reported in WeNews, woman's advocate Peace Ruzage, of Aspire Rwanda, said "“The problem of violence against women in Rwanda, as with many African countries, is rooted in the cultural beliefs and notions of masculinity reinforced through generations.” True for the US as well.