I am a firm believer that gender equity is the baseline to solving the problem of poverty and all of its side effects. I would even say that in terms of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, Goal 3: Gender Equality is the keystone to all the others.
When it comes to gender equity, Rwanda is leading the African continent and the world. According to the UN website,
Rwanda has the highest number of women parliamentarians in the world with women constituting nearly 50 percent in the Chamber of Deputies and about 35 percent in the Senate.
To put this in perspective, in the current United States Congress, only 16% of seats are held by women.
In a nutshell, Rwanda has the right idea. Last week, I was able to see a small part of this push for gender equity in action. I visited a grassroots organization, which specifically works with survivors of genocidal rape, sexual violence, and HIV-positive women. This organization is called WE-ACT: Women’s Equity in Access to Care and Treatment.
According to their website:
In the 100-day genocide of 1994, an estimated 250,000 Rwandan women experienced multiple episodes of brutal rape, torture and violence. Many of women contracted HIV, likely as a result of the this brutality. In late 2003, the women learned that the perpetrators of their rapes who were jailed while waiting trial at the International Tribunal were receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART), while their victims died of AIDS. Women’s Equity in Access to Care and Treatment for HIV (WE-ACTx) was created in early 2004 in response to a request from these women for help in accessing ART.
The women involved make crafts to help fund project. When we visited, women were busy cutting patterns from brightly colored Africa fabrics or hard at work in the sewing room. I walked away with a beautiful new bag and a smile on my face because their constant laughter and happiness was contagious.
|Claire and I with one of the ladies at WE-ACT|
For more information about WE-ACT, visit their website at: http://www.we-actx.org/