Women’s Voices Rise as Rwanda Reinvents Itself

   •    February 26, 2005

This article was originally published in The New York Times.

The most remarkable thing about Rwanda’s Parliament is not the war-damaged building that houses it, with its bullet holes and huge artillery gashes still visible a decade after the end of the fighting.

It is inside the hilltop structure, from the spectator seats of the lower house, that one sees a most unusual sight for this part of the world: mixed in with all the dark-suited male legislators are many, many women — a greater percentage than in any other parliamentary body in the world.

“There’s a widespread perception in Rwanda that women are better at reconciliation and forgiveness,” said Elizabeth Powley, who has studied Rwandan women’s political rise for Women Waging Peace, an organization based in Cambridge, Mass. “Giving them such prominence is partly an effort at conflict prevention.”

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