Rwanda – 30, July 2020: Rwanda can recover faster from the Covid-19 if women entrepreneurs received more support during the pandemic, Hon. Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has said.
Speaking at a virtual meeting dubbed “Great Lakes Regional Consultative Round-Table Virtual Dialogue on Economic Empowerment of Women and their Effective Participation in Peace Building” in the Great Lakes region, Hon. Akamanzi noted that equipping women with entrepreneurship and innovative skills to absorb underutilized labor force remains a priority for the Rwanda Development Board.
She noted that evidence proves the income spending patterns and habits differ greatly between men and women.
“It is estimated that men tend to spend only 40-45 percent of their incomes on their family. Women on the other hand, dedicate double that amount towards the welfare of their families and ecosystems,” she says.
“That explains why women cannot be left behind in all disciplines and also explains why bolstering economic development of women is at the heart of Rwanda’s National Transformation Strategy,” she added.
She said the Government of Rwanda is committed to promoting women and gender equality. With a population that is 52 percent female, Rwanda has made unprecedented progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment through various laws, policies and mechanisms.
Specialized institutions and forums such as National Women’s Council, Gender Monitoring Office, Rwanda Women’s Parliamentary Forum (FFRP), and Private Sector Chamber of Women among others, were created to support women along this journey.
Similarly, the legal system guarantees equal rights in terms of land ownership and inheritance, hence 26 percent of land is owned by women while 54 percent is owned by both spouses. In Rwanda, she adds: “We believes that women’s access to land tremendously contributed to their control over productive resources and access to loans.”
Politically, the country’s constitution enshrines gender equality – with a required 30 percent quota for women in leadership positions. Because of this approach, 61 percent of Rwandan parliamentarians are women. In Cabinet, over 50 percent of Cabinet Members are also women.
Clare Akamanzi further said that Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has increased its support to women with sound and innovative business projects to acquire startup capital in financial institutions through Guarantee and Grant facilities. In fact, today, head more than 42 percent of enterprises.
Hon Akamanzi also said women entrepreneurs contribute 78 percent in cross border trade, and Cross border trade contributes 30 percnet to GDP.
“RDB is playing a central role in inclusive trade, given that RDB’s achievements are giving opportunities to women to be integrated in economic activities as Producers, Suppliers, Investors, Exporters, Employees (getting decent jobs),” she said.
She added that the RDB has re-aligned its focus and priorities and re-positioned the institution to capably formulate and deliver the required interventions to ensure inclusive growth with a special focus on women. As an example, we have a target of connecting 5,000 women to the market in the next twelve months.
For example, the government introduced agricultural programs and developed community cooperatives to help the poorest farmers, most of whom are women, to improve agricultural practices.
This has also seen support also being given in the form of training, market linkages, and in the area of technology where young women are provided with grants to implement and market their ICT projects according to the innovation aspects in each project.
The virtual consultation on the economic empowerment of women and their effective participation in peace building within the evolving context of Covid-19 also attracted Guarantors of the PSC Framework (UN, AU, SADC, and ICGLR), the Advisory Board for Women Peace and Security (WPS), and the UN Peace Building Commission (PBC).
The event is part of a series of consultative roundtable dialogues aimed at preserving the gains made in the implementation of the WPS Agenda in the Great Lakes Region (GLR) and Economic Development, with a focus on ‘Women as Agents of Change for Social and Economic Transformation’.
In attendance were women entrepreneurs who against all odd rose to be successful in business including Dr Theo Mothoa-Frendo, Founder of Uso-South Africa, an advanced facial skincare range aimed at addressing the specific needs of Africans, Monica Musonda CEO & Founder of Java Foods, Zambian based food processing company and Yvette Mwanza a Director of G.C.GEM SARL, a company specializing in assisting and advising mining companies in the identification, analysis and mitigation of risks linked to the mineral supply chain.