What We Can Learn From Rwanda About Gender Equality


Gender inequality is a worldwide issue. It is important to understand where countries in Sub-Saharan Africa rank compared to other countries around the world. One useful resource for this is the ‘Global Gender Gap Report’ done by the World Economic Forum. In 2018, two Sub-Saharan countries ranked in the top ten most gender equal countries in the world. Rwanda ranked number 6. Namibia was ranked number 10. Rwanda has been in the top ten since it entered the report, in 2014. We can look to these countries as examples. From them we can learn how to make other countries more gender equal.


This report measures gender equality in four areas. First is economic participation and opportunity. Next is educational attainment. Then comes health and survival. Finally there is political empowerment. Rwanda has closed 80% of it’s gender gap overall. Sub-Saharan Africa as a region has closed 33% of it’s gender gap overall. We can look at where Rwanda is succeeding in order to learn from them.


Rwanda’s parliament is 61% female. This is the highest percentage of women in parliament in the world. This is due to laws that require 30% of parliament to be women. In Rwanda, 86% of women work. This is one of the highest rates in the world. Rwanda also has laws to support working women. For example, women are allowed to take three months of paid maternity leave by law. Rwanda also closed its health gender gap completely in 2017.


However, even in Rwanda, there is always more work to be done. We cannot forget about other issues women face. For example, violence against women is still an issue. This among many other issues still need to be addressed all around the world.


No country has reached full gender equality. But we can see from Rwanda how countries can get closer to that goal. Education is key to gender equality. Writing laws that help women is also important. Making sure health outcomes are gender equal is also essential. This may be easier to do when more women are in government like in Rwanda. These numbers provide hope for a more gender equal Sub-Saharan Africa and world. 


Meghan O'Neil


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