Ordinary Women Analysis

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The high representation of women in the Rwandan parliament - they hold 61% of seats in parliament - has often been praised for its perceived strides it has taken in ensuring that women are not only represented - but that their issues remain on the national agenda. However, one can argue that these changes are too few and far in between. What role are the female Members of Parliament (MPs) allowed and/or limited to playing, are they merely side-lined to issues dealing directly with women or do they have a voice on over-arching societal issues such as the international relations. This essay will argue through the use of the three different representation techniques - symbolic, substantive and descriptive - that there hasn’t been meaningful change to the lives and status of ordinary women in Rwanda, particularly change that is on par and would be expected from such a large amount of women in parliament. It will also challenge the notion that women being in power in government is directly related to the peace and stability of government.

The strong presence of women in Rwanda’s parliament can be attributed to
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Hogg remarks that the RPF’s female empowerment is merely a cosmetic change for the international community of a post-genocide Rwanda (reminiscent of post-Apartheid South Africa’s rainbow-nationisms), one which masks the reality that Rwanda is slowly becoming an authoritarian state under Kagame’s 18-year presidency (Hogg, 2009: 46). Rwanda may have the highest rate of women in parliament but that is due to the gender quota and not necessarily a reflection of a change in society in regards to how they view women. Ndung’u writes that albeit women are highly represented in parliament when it to holding positions of power within government - the figures differ. In 2016, only 38% of MPs in Senate were women and only 16.7% of mayors are women (Data World

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