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What can you do to ensure sustainable women and girl’s empowerment

When it comes to strides made to close the gender gap, Rwanda is at the forefront with the 2015 revised constitution that enshrines the principles of gender equality and women’s rights and provides for the minimum 30% quota for women in all decision-making organs.

The government has also committed to establish a gender friendly legal and policy framework. It is safe to say when it comes to women representation in the decision making process, Rwanda leads worldwide.

With that in light, about a month or so ago, news about how Rwandan women ‘justified’ wife beating flooded the streets.

This stirred up a debate on Twitter as young women were asking key questions like ‘Which women said this and what is their age range?’ Clearly, the younger generation does not subscribe to gender based violence or any other forms of abuse on women, girls and vulnerable groups.

This data shows different forms of violence against women in Rwanda lifetime Physical and/or Sexual Intimate Partner Violence 41.5 %, Physical and/or Sexual Intimate Partner Violence in the last 12 months 23.8 %, Lifetime Non-Partner Sexual Violencethe official national statistics not available and Child Marriage is at 6.8 % Looking as the Gender Inequality Index, Rwanda ranks 92 and on the Global Gender Gap Index 57.

So how can this be transformed? How can we ensure that there is the empowerment of young women and girls that is sustainable?

Well the answer is simple: SDG5. Goal 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.

Some of the indicators for this goal include, Ending all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere, eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation, Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation and ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life.

With the HIV reports that have being circulating in Rwanda over the past weeks, one target area that is key in the Rwandan context becomes to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.

With all these targets, what can young people do to play a role in bringing this SDG to life. Well there is a lot to be done to make sure the girl child recovers and here are some things you can do as a ‘kool kid on KURA’:

End violence
Any form of violence is not good. Abusing yields no good results. For violence is ended by violence. Orange the world, stop any form of violence and abuse against women and girls.

Recognize the value of unpaid care work

We all know who packed our lunchboxes for school, we all know who taught us how to bathe and all the basics of cleanliness.
If we are to speak of raising a child, we all know mothers and sisters play an important role. Are they paid for it? So one way to end this vicious cycle, let us appreciate the labor our sisters and mothers put in.
They were never paid for it, they just did it out of love and care. Return the favor.

End harmful practices

Practices like child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) deprive women and girls of their agency, both reflecting and cementing their subordinate status.
Marriage robs girls of their childhood, forcing them to take on the responsibilities of adult womanhood too early.
It limits their futures, often preventing them from completing school. Not to mention that it harms their health, putting them at heightened risk of adolescent pregnancy and its accompanying complications, as well as of domestic violence.
Female genital mutilation, most often performed on children, also has serious health consequences in both the short and long term.

Ensure access to sexual and reproductive health and rights

Restricting women’s bodily autonomy is a pervasive form of patriarchal control, both at the government level and within the family.

Women’s empowerment depends on the protection of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, including access to health care and education and the right to make their own informed decisions about their bodies.

It is time we stand together and say no to any forms of abuse against the girl child. For years the girl child has been lagging behind. Let us unite efforts and stand for women’s rights for they are human rights. As we do this, let us not forget to tag along the boy child so that in 100 years, we will not be working on saving the boy child as well.

Straight out of Twitter