Distinguished Executive Secretary of the National Women Council and guest of honor,

Distinguished Executive Secretary of the Media high Council;

The representative of the Chair of Association of Female Journalists;

Honorable Members of Parliament both Chambers;

Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners here present (TBC);

Distinguished Representatives of Government Institutions;

Distinguished Representatives of Civil Society Organizations and the Media;

Distinguished representatives of development partners;

My dear colleagues from the UNDP - ONE UN;

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;

All protocol observed;

Allow me to start by saying to you all: MWARAMUTSE! GOOD MORNING.

It gives me great pleasure and honor to be here today at the occasion of the opening of this conference on gender equality and women empowerment in the media sector. On the outset, I would like to express my gratitude to the Guest of Honor, for gracing this event by her presence despite her many responsibilities. I also would like to thank the Executive of the Media High Council (MHC) here present, and the Association of Female Journalists (ARFEM) represented by Doreen Umutesi, for organizing this conference and associating UNDP as a partner to building gender equality in the media sector. This conference serves as a platform that brings together all media institutions, the National gender machinery institutions, representatives of public institutions, development partners, representatives of the diplomatic corps, Academia, CSOs and the Media and other stakeholders to celebrate the women month, to celebrate women in the media sector and to celebrate the efforts made by this sector for the empowerment of women. A warm welcome to all participants here present and in particular all speakers panelists and Moderators.

Distinguished participants;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

Let me take this opportunity to thank the government of Rwanda for the excellent work and commendable progress made towards gender equality and women’s participation in Rwanda. The outstanding achievements made by Rwanda in the area of gender equality and women empowerment is worth the recognition of all and as much as possible it tells us that no matter how big the barriers towards achieving gender equality are, they can be overcome. Rwanda was transformed into a global champion in gender equality immediately after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi when the human, social, economic and political capital of the Country was completely devastated. The culture then was not completely favorable to gender equality and so were the laws, policies, budget schemes and mindsets. However, twenty-five years later, we celebrate that Rwanda stands out of the cloud in the world regarding gender equality by reaching gender parity at cabinet level, having the highest percentage of women representation in Parliament (61,2%), granting equal opportunities to women and men across all the sectors of the Country’s social and political life, the economy and creating countries where women and men enjoy living in.

Distinguished participants;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

That said, despite the achievements recorded we are still gathered here today to talk about gender equality and one would question that.  we could wonder why we are focusing on gender equality and women empowerment in the media sector today. Indeed, a lot of progress has been done in Rwanda but there are areas where the Government and stakeholders are collaborating to bridge the persisting gender gaps. For example, the recent NISR (2018) labor force survey indicates that women are paid 13% less than men and only 44% of women are part of the total labor force and when it comes to underemployment rate, 25, 2% are men and 32% are women. Looking at gender parity within the media sector, we realize that Rwanda has a total number of 989 accredited journalists with 240 journalists (24,4%) being female and 749 being male (75.6%). Statistics indicate that the media sector had only 2 media houses owned by women in 2012, and steadily increased over the previous years by 10 in 2016 and currently the sector counts 18 media houses owned and managed by women.

Distinguished participants; 
Ladies and Gentlemen;

These challenges are not particular to Rwanda.  The 2016 UNDP Africa Human Development report reveals that women in Africa achieve only 87% of the human development outcomes of men. The report also states that gender inequality in the labor market alone cost sub-Saharan Africa about 105 billion in 2014-equivalent to 6% of GDP. The Global Gender Gap report 2018 revealed that there is still a 32% average gender gap that remains to be closed.  Focusing on the media, research spanning more than 100 countries found that 46 per cent of news stories, in print and on radio and television, uphold gender stereotypes. Only 6 per cent highlight gender equality. According to another global study spanning 522 news media organizations, men still occupy around 73 per cent of top media management positions. We also notice the persistence of bias against women in reporting on women’s issues, women leaders and gender equality. Women are severely underrepresented in newsrooms, television and radio stations, film production and ownership of media outlets. With all the above, it becomes pertinent to deeply assess the risk caused by gender inequality which was well described by his Excellency the President of the Republic of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame, who said “Any place that does not make gender equality a priority, is probably getting other important things wrong too”. Therefore, we are gathered here today to reflect and ensure that things are not going wrong in the media sector due to gender inequality.

Distinguished participants;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

The main theme of this conference is about “Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in the Media sector in Rwanda”. Societies that enjoy equal opportunity have a much higher prospect of achieving social and economic development and improving the welfare of their citizens. It is also believed globally that women are a cornerstone of prosperity for society as a whole. We are grateful to have of the Association of Female Journalists that brings together all professionals’ women in the media sector to advocate for desired change. We also note with appreciation the development and implementation of the gender mainstreaming strategy which has been implemented during the previous five years in order to provide equal opportunities for both women and men in the Media industry. But the main question remains, how far do we stand five years after the adoption of this strategy? This set a foundation for the conference participants to discuss the overview of gender equality, emphasizing achievements, lessons and challenges foreseen in the media sector as well as a window of opportunities and gaps which demand for collective roles and actions of main actors in promoting gender equality to bring a change in the media sector.

Distinguished participants;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

At UNDP, we have been honored to be part of this process since the very beginning and I would like to reiterate our continued commitment to strengthening the gender equality and women empowerment in the Media sector in Rwanda.  This support is embedded in the UNDP Program on “Deepening Democracy through strengthening citizen participation and Accountable Governance” - a five-year partnership between the UNDP and the Government of Rwanda which will run until mid-2023. Among others, the programme aims to work closely with the Government, through the Media high Council, the Association of Female Journalists and the Rwanda Governance Board; The Rwanda Media Commission, The Association of Rwandan Journalists, the National Gender Machinery Institutions as well as with other development partners in addressing the identified weak areas and/or those that are in need of reinforcement to achieve gender equality in the media sector. Moving forward, we would like to increase our support in addressing the gender gap in the media sector by addressing some of the major knowledge and skills gaps of journalists and media houses on gender equality and gender reporting and dedicated support to female journalists to strategically remove all the persisting barriers.

Distinguished participants;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

Allow me to say that I have no doubt that we will turn the identified challenges into opportunities to fast track gender equality and women empowerment in the media sector. As we gather here today, I would like to invite all the participate to use gender lenses in addressing all the topics and ensure that the recommendations tackle gender inequalities both those affecting men as well as those affecting women. Let’s look strategically at today’s realities, challenge the gender occupancy rate, assess women and men’s voice within the media sector with the aim of positioning Rwanda as a champion in gender equality in the media sector.  I would like to particularly invite my fellow men-media owners, media managers, chief editors and practicing journalists- to be gender equality advocates and HeForShe. As the majority within the media sector, men’s contribution in promoting the gender equality agenda is crucial and imperative. We strongly believe in joining forces to maximise the effectiveness of our interventions and we remain committed to pursuing partnerships with all governance stakeholders to further advance gender equality in Rwanda.

Finally, I would like to express once again my gratitude to the Media High Council (MHC) and the Association of Female Journalists, (ARFEM) for hosting this important conference on gender equality and women empowerment, and to all the governance stakeholders, development partners for attending this conference.

I thank you all and wish you fruitful discussion.

Thank you for your kind attention, Murakoze Cyane. 

 

Icon of SDG 05

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Rwanda 
Go to UNDP Global