Source: The New Times

The latest UN Women report released yesterday in New York, once again, positions Rwanda as the country with the highest representation of women in politics and participation in the development of their country.

The report indicates that where women have attained a critical mass in parliaments, laws and policies to advance women's rights have followed.

"In Rwanda, 51 percent of parliamentarians are women – the highest level of women's representation in the world," the report points out.

According to the report, women parliamentarians have spearheaded legal reforms to improve women's prosperity and inheritance rights and pass laws to protect women from domestic violence and marital rape.

Though the new report recognizes positive progress made in 139 countries in guaranteeing gender equality in their constitutions, it also shows that too often, women continue to experience injustice, violence and inequality in their homes and working lives.

While presenting the report, Michelle Bachelet, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, noted that the rights of women have universally improved compared to previous years, but hastened to add that more has to be done.

"With half the world's population at stake, the findings of this report are a powerful call to action. The foundations for justice for women have been laid: in 1911, just two countries in the world allowed women to vote – now that right is virtually universal," she noted.

"But full equality demands that women become men's true equals in the eyes of the law – in their homes and working lives, and in the public sphere."

To ensure that justice becomes a reality for all women, the report calls on governments to repeal laws that discriminate against women, put women on frontline of justice delivery as well as invest in justice systems that can respond to women's needs.

The UN secretary general, Ban -Ki Moon acknowledged that women should not be marginalised as they play an important role in raising their families.

"Women are the breadwinners who can help their families and communities. They are the mothers who can feed their children and the leaders who will educate the next generation," said Ban.

He vowed to continue extending more support to women to ensure that their role in world development is more visible.

"I firmly believe in a future where women are free to lead and contribute to their societies and where girls can grow up safe, healthy, educated and strong. I will support UN women in every way possible," he pledged.

According to the report, this year, at least 52 countries have made marital rape a criminal offence. There are, however, over 2.6 billion women living in countries where it has not been explicitly criminalized.

Oda Gasinzigwa, Rwanda's Chief Gender Monitor welcomed the report, saying that it improves women's commitment in the development of the country.

"It's good to recognise us. There are a lot of achievements we have registered and the good performance is attributed to the political will. The leadership has trusted us to participate in all levels of development."

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