The Impact of Rwandan Women Leaders’ Contribution to Peace in Rwanda.

Our Associate, Professor Shirley Randell AO from Australia was in the UK in July to give the graduation speech at the De Montfort University and speak at the Women Leaders in Education Across Continents Biennial Conference on ‘Ways of Seeing Women’s Leadership in Education’ at the University of Nottingham. Here, she reflects on the impressive progress towards women empowerment in Rwanda, borne out of the horrific ’94 genocide.

I lived in Rwanda from 2006 to 2015 and had the opportunity to work with many of the senior women in politics, the public service, private and non-government associations over that period. I wrote the 2007 Rwandan contribution on Gender, Nation Building and the Role of Parliaments . A further opportunity was to write about Rwandan women’s contribution to peace and reconstruction for The Commonwealth .

Women’s increased participation in high-level decision-making has played a major role in political stability, economic growth and development for Rwanda since the shocking 1994 genocide. This tragedy disrupted the social order and began the gender revolution in Rwanda. With their husbands and fathers either dead, fled or in prison, women had to assume the role of the head of their families and responsibility for governance, economic work and development as well. Women from both the surviving families and the perpetrators sat down together to find a different way of dealing with conflict.

Women proved not only as able as men, but more so. Women’s strategic and transformative leadership roles in reconciling divergent groups have changed the political culture and contributed to political and democratic development, economic growth and business expansion. In developing the knowledge, competencies and skills needed to attain leadership positions, women now make up over 60 percent of Parliament. Their involvement in fighting corruption, family violence, and dispensing justice has resulted in sustainable reforms. The impact of women’s leadership in sector development includes improved public service delivery, increased accountability and better professional standards throughout society.

Rwanda has been the only country in Africa to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals, save eliminating absolute poverty, and has set its sights on attaining the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

You can find out more about Shirley’s work on her webpage