Less than 15 years since the 1994 genocide, Rwanda is leading the world in its progessionist thinking about women. This is particularly surprising becase this East African nation lies in a continent that has been dominated by the rule of men. In Rwanda however, a country of 10 million with 55% women and 60% of the population below poverty line (based on gE statistics), the popular will is for women to drive the economy by filling ranks of Government.
Women in Rwanda hold a third of all cabinet positions and Rwanda's parliament recently became the first in the world where women claim majority -- 56% women, including the speaker's chair. As a result, Rwanda has banished archaic patriarchal or discriminatory laws that are still enforced in many African societies, such as those that prevent women from inheriting land or getting a bank loan.
President Paul Kagame is said to have a big hand in such progressionist attitude of Rwanda towards gender. However, Rwandan progressionism seems very new to the African continent. While many African legislatures have adopted quotas reserving seats for female lawmakers, none has done so as ambitiously as Rwanda. On the flip side, just next door, an epidemic of sexual violence has ravaged eastern Congo, where law and order have almost completely broken down.
Aside from politics, Rwandan women are also working on construction sites, in factories and as truck and taxi drivers. Rwandans say "we are doing this for ourselves" and the men in Rwanda believe that "women are more reasonable, more merciful and less corrupt than men." Now that is progressionist thinking! So, will Rwanda set an example for the rest of the world? Will Rwanda be able to influence the rest of Africa towards adopting such an attitude? Can such progressionism help change the face of Africa - the second most populous continent?