CHOGM leaders key in promoting gender equality

Tuesday June 21 2022

Farmers in Bugesera district, Rwanda, who were supported by UN Women’s Covid-19 recovery fund. PHOTO | UN WOMEN | PEARL KARUNGI.

During the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) happening in Kigali, Rwanda from 20-25th June, the Government of Rwanda together with the Commonwealth Secretariat will host the Commonwealth Women’s Forum to assert massive support and promote top-level policies for gender equality and human rights, provide women with opportunities to interact with Heads of Government; and ensure the Commonwealth's gender equality obligations are a concern for Heads of Government.

UN Women, as the global champion strategising and mobilising action towards transforming Gender equality towards delivering a common future on the foundations of ‘equality, sustainable development and peace’ is pleased with the choice of the CHOGM Women’s Forum which is ‘Delivering a Common Future: Transforming for Gender Equality’.


Peer Learning Conference on Gender Equality, November 2017. PHOTO | UN WOMEN

“In Rwanda, in Africa, and globally UN Women work to ensure women and girls are safe, their voices heard and they can make informed choices. We cannot do this alone. Commonwealth Heads of Government play an important role as champions for gender equality and their commitments at CHOGM will enhance accountability for GEWE and support to build a more just and equal world for everyone,” Maxime Houinato, UN Women Regional Director East and Southern Africa.


The UN Resident Coordinator, Fode Ndiaye during the Girls Takeover initiative, March 2019. PHOTO | UN WOMEN

Rwanda stands out globally in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE), particularly around political participation. Nearly two-thirds (61.3 percent) of its parliamentary seats and 55 percent of cabinet positions are held by women. In addition, Rwanda was ranked 7th globally in 2021 in gender equality and women’s empowerment by the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index. The Government of Rwanda over the years has joined forces with the UN System and other partners to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in the country.


The UN System under the coordination leadership of UN Women has over the years been working with government, development partners, civil society, and private sector organisations in Rwanda to close the gender gap, to achieve the change we are working towards transformational shifts in three areas: Women’s Leadership; Economic Empowerment and the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence with focus on youths.

“If we are really serious about development, we must put more power in the hands of young people, girls, because of their creativity, their passion, their commitment, but also because the future is their future. The agenda 2030 is envisioned for them, to make sure they push the boundaries of development and secure that hope for everyone," says Fode Ndiaye, Resident Coordinator, UN Rwanda.

Rwanda’s impressive results are due, in large measure, to strong political commitment and institutional level accountability for gender equality. The government institutions that make up the National Gender Machinery (the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, the Gender Monitoring Office, the National Women Council, and the Rwanda Women Parliamentary Forum (FFRP) constitute a uniquely strong and effective mechanism for mainstreaming and monitoring of gender equality and women’s empowerment across sectors.

Multi-stakeholder partnerships between the different government entities and development partners have also contributed to the progress, by bringing in the much-needed technical knowledge, good practices, and innovative ideas on GEWE.


UN Women Regional Director, Maxime Houinato (left) at the Workshop on Gender Statistics in Rwanda, August 2018. PHOTO | UN WOMEN

It is my great pleasure to serve UN Women as Representative in Rwanda at this turning point in the history of the organisation which recently turned 10, adopted a new Strategic Plan and is following up on commitments to accelerate the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action by global leaders from across sectors during the Generation Equality Fora. Also, a time of great global and regional challenges as the world grapples with building back better from the Covid-19 pandemic, and multiple conflicts especially the Ukraine war and the climate crisis. UN Women, through the Generation Equality Fora, focuses on implementation and accountability, given the gaps in implementing GEWE commitments.

I am highly impressed with the level and dimension to which the government of Rwanda has taken up accountability for GEWE, notably, across the public and private sectors, all levels of governance from the state house, through ministries and key accountability mechanisms to the village as well as with CSOs and religious bodies.  Supporting accountability for GEWE is at the centre of UN Women’s work in the country to ensure effective delivery of services and respect the rights of all women, leaving no one behind. I look forward to leveraging this commitment and working with the UN Family and other development partners to support the government of Rwanda to address the remaining challenges delaying the full achievement of women empowerment and gender equality in the country,"  says Jennet Kem, UN Women Rwanda Country Representative.

UN Women is the UN organisation delivering programmes, policies and standards that uphold women’s human rights and ensure that every woman and girl lives up to her full potential. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.

UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services that truly benefit women and girls worldwide. It works globally to make the vision of the SDGs a reality for women and girls and stands behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life, focusing on four strategic priorities:

In the East and Southern Africa Region, the organisation has a presence in 13 Countries (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa (Multi-Country office covering Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Eswatini).  In countries where there is no presence, UN Women collaborates with the resident coordinator office to advance gender equality.  

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