The Rise of Rwanda’s Women
A new article, “The Rise of Rwanda’s Women,” by Inclusive Security founder and Chair Ambassador Swanee Hunt was published today on the Foreign Affairs website. The article will also appear in the May-June print edition. Over the last 15 years, Amb. Hunt and Inclusive Security staff have worked alongside Rwandan women leaders advancing peace and security.
The article marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Rwanda genocide (April 7, 1994). To commemorate this anniversary, the Women in the World Summit will host a panel in New York with Amb Hunt and several several Rwandan women leaders on Friday April 4. The panel will be streamed live on The Daily Beast.
Amb. Hunt’s Foreign Affairs article tells the story of how the destruction of Rwanda governance and society during the genocide opened a door for women to assert their leadership in the aftermath. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:
Twenty years ago, in 100 days of slaughter between April and July 1994, an estimated one million Rwandan men, women, and children were killed by their fellow citizens. It was one of the worst genocides in history, and its effects still ripple through Rwanda, central and eastern Africa, and the world at large.
It would be obscene to say that such a catastrophe has had even the thinnest silver lining. But it did create a natural — or unnatural — experiment, as the country’s social, economic, and political institutions were wiped out by the genocide. And in important respects, the reconstructed Rwanda that emerged over the next two decades is a dramatically different country.
One major improvement has come in the leadership of Rwandan women, who have made history with their newly vital role in politics and civil society. No longer confined to positions of influence in the home, they have become a force from the smallest village council to the highest echelons of national government. Understanding how and why such a transformation occurred offers not just an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments. It also provides lessons for other countries struggling to overcome histories of patriarchy and oppression.
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