Let’s get girls on the Post-2015 Agenda
Kigali, 31st July 2013 – “We have to make sure that girls voices continue to be heard and listened to attentively… Their input will shape the way forward for global development,” said the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Lamin Momodou Manneh speaking at the Girl Learning Summit, an event organized by the Girl Hub-Rwanda and the Gender Monitoring Office, and led by the Nike Foundation’s Girl Effect University.
The event, which closed today, was attended by representatives of NGO’s, Faith Based organizations, Government institutions, the One UN, and other development partners, and had for objective to encourage and motivate participants to combine efforts around girl-centered programming. Plan International, Care International, Rwanda Men’s Resources Centre (RWAMREC) and Rwanda Women’s Network were the facilitators of engaging break-out sessions which provided and equipped participants with knowledge, data and tools to consider girls in planning and programming initiatives. Kate Wedgewood, the Country Director of the Girls Hub-Rwanda, said that the summit is as well an opportunity to build connections and create a network for leaders, practitioners and experts who work to empower girls in Rwanda.
The Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Hon. Oda Gasinzigwa opened the 2-day summit on the evening on July 29th. In her speech she recognized the importance of girls in the Rwandan society, ‘’In Rwanda, girls have proved to be key drivers in the social and economic growth of our country. Girls’ participation in all sectors of our country is imperative, if Rwanda is to achieve EDPRS II and Vision 2020 targets’’, said the Hon. Gasinzigwa. On 31st July, Mr. Leonard Rugwabiza, the Director General of the National Planning and Research at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) closed the summit. During his speech, Mr. Rugwabiza encouraged all participants to work jointly in order to ensure the full contribution of girls to the development of Rwanda.
In 2012, more than 60% of the Rwandan population was aged between 0-24 years, the median age for women was 19.1 years and the population of young girls was slightly higher than that of boys, according to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR). As Mr. Manneh noted, during the past years, Rwanda has achieved or is on the good path to achieving most of the MDGs central to Women and Girls’ Empowerment, including among others facilitating access to education for girls and boys (MDG 2), the promotion of gender equality (MDG 3), the reduction of maternal deaths (MDG 5) and child mortality (MDG 4), and the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (MDG 6).
However, there is still a gap in advancing the situation of young girls in Rwanda, given that the biggest economic challenge adolescent girls face today is linked to their exposure to HIV/AIDS, early pregnancies, and poverty. As Mr. Rugwabiza stated, teenage maternal death rates among the 15-19 age group are the highest in Rwanda; and school dropout rates are mainly due to early pregnancies, and poverty related issues. Research from the World Bank also shows that if employment ratios of boys and girls were equal, this would raise Rwanda’s economy by US$30 million annually. “The young girls of today are tomorrow’s young Rwandan adults. Tackling women empowerment in Rwanda should start from the roots, from today’s adolescent girls” Mr. Manneh told the journalists.
The UN Resident Coordinator also recognized and commended the efforts made by the Government of Rwanda in the area of gender equality and women empowerment. “By including girls and ensuring they have a place in the post-2015 agenda, we are recognizing that early investment and intervention solve many of the systemic problems the MDGs were designed to combat. Arming girls with tools and skills in adolescence ensures they can make informed decisions throughout their lives—completing school, planning their family, being productive members of the economy, and raising healthy, educated children if they choose” said Mr. Manneh in his address to the participants of the Girl Learning Summit.
Mr. Manneh concluded by saying “Many of girls’ aspirations are centered on creating opportunities that will give back to their families, communities, and country. When we invest in girls, Rwanda prospers. The One UN in Rwanda is keen to continue accompanying Rwanda over the coming years in the consolidation and expansion of the gains it has already made in this area”.