Women deserve to live and work side by side with men instead of being left behind while they crucially support men in everything on a daily basis, President Paul Kagame has said.
The Head of State delivered the message on Saturday in Kigali while receiving the Gender Champion Award, which was bestowed to him by African Women Movements, a coalition of women’s groups across the continent.
The coalition also conferred the same award to Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, who was also recognised for her contribution in advancing gender equality and women empowerment during her tenure at the African Union (AU).
Both Kagame and Dlamini-Zuma castigated the common adage that ‘there is a woman behind every successful man’, noting that women shouldn’t be left behind anymore and advocating for ‘side by side’ as the best way to describe the right relationship between men and women.
“Women should not be called those who are behind those who are successful. Men and women should be side by side.
“When women are able to enjoy their right and use their talent to the full, everyone benefits,” Kagame said.
Under the president’s leadership, Rwanda has become a champion in promoting women’s rights and the results from the country’s policies and laws in favour of gender equality and women empowerment speak volumes.
The Lower House of Rwanda’s Parliament is dominated by women who occupy 64 per cent of the seats while the Judiciary is also women inclusive, at 40 per cent, while 43 per cent of district councillors are women.
Several members of the African Women Movements lauded President Kagame for his exemplary leadership in advancing women’s rights, describing him as a global champion of women’s rights.
“We are calling you the global gender champion because what you have done here is an example for other leaders around the world,” said Ambassador Dr. Erieka Bennett, head of the African Union Diaspora African Forum (AU-DAF).
Dr. Dlamini-Zuma thanked Kagame for leading the liberation struggle in Rwanda without forgetting that women needed to be included.
“When the world was failing this country, you were able to get this country out of Genocide. You understood there cannot be freedom for men without freedom for women,” Dlamini-Zuma told the president. “You are an inspiration for all of us not because you are the president of Rwanda but because you grew up in difficult circumstances but you didn’t let them define your future.”
Accompanied by his wife Jeanette Kagame at the gala, the president told the gathering of prominent African women leaders and other dignitaries that he will continue to promote gender equality and thanked them for the award.
“I have to make sure to continue to work hard to earn this special honour given to me by the women of Africa,” he said, adding that to him “being a gender champion is the same thing as being a champion of justice and fairness for people in general”.
Prior to issuing the awards for President Kagame and Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, hundreds of African women leaders participated at the 3rd African Union High-Level Panel on Gender and Women’s Empowerment in Kigali on Friday and Saturday, ahead of next week’s 27th African Union Summit in the city.
Source: The New Times