Why Women are Economic Backbone of Rwanda

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kigali, Rwanda (CNN) — Six days a week Bernadette Ndizigiye puts her skillful hands to work. Stretched out on the floor of an empty classroom in Kigali, Ndizigiye and 20 other women weave baskets to earn their keep.

Her job at the Agaseke Project, a government run cooperative, has earned Ndizigiye a steady wage, her first savings account, and a taste of financial empowerment.

“I can pay school fees for my children. I can buy them clothes and food and when I go out to the street people can see that I am really smart,” she said.

Women like Ndizigiye are the economic backbone of today’s Rwanda. The 1994 genocide left behind a population 70 percent female and when the bloodshed stopped it was women who picked up the pieces and started to rebuild.

Today there are still more women than men and lawmakers are pushing for reform to help them and Rwanda prosper.

“In Rwanda there is a saying. The woman is the heart of the house, so if your heart is working well the whole body I think is also to benefit,” said Dr. Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, a parliamentarian for the Social Democratic Party.

Today there are more women in Rwanda’s parliament than any other country in the world. Laws have been passed so they can own land and wives can legally keep their assets separate from their husbands. All steps the government is taking to help Rwandese women gain an equal hand at politics and business.

Source: CNN (link opens in a new window)