National and district advocacy in Rwanda

National validation workshop

Kigali, 22nd September 2017

A national validation workshop to disseminate the findings of the study under the GrOW project ‘Balancing unpaid care work and paid work: successes, challenges and lessons for women’s economic empowerment programmes and policies’ was organized in Kigali on 22nd September 2017 by ActionAid Rwanda.

The workshop was attended by around 25 people from NGOs, all the relevant government ministries, and the deputy mayor of Musanze. It was moderated by a TV presenter interested in women’s issues. All those speaking, including from the government, highlighted that this was an important issue which needed to be worked on together. Although no specifics were given, the government speakers suggested that the research could help to improve their policies and programmes and called for soft copies of it to feed into their work.

There were a number of calls for clearer recommendations. Audience members were interested in the role and importance of men in unpaid care work, and there was some question as to the focus on single mothers in the research. Other suggestions from the room also related to more sensitisation of men, especially from an early age – education was seen as key; labour saving devices (including in relation to paid work); microfinance for women; and skills training. The quality of work also came up, and the importance of decent work was highlighted.

Government speakers pointed out measures that are already in place - e.g. Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres, the Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP) looking to place women closer to home and paid in a timely way into bank accounts, the electrification programme, platforms for women designed to give them more access to information, the focus on women and youth (50% quota) in the national employment programme - and the need to use these existing measures to tackle the issues. However, it was acknowledged that the quality and extent of implementation of these policies and programmes needed to be looked into.

District dissemination events

The district dissemination events took place on 19th September 2017 in Musanze and 20th September 2017 in Huye. The events were attended by not only the women involved in the study, but also senior local government, including the mayor in Huye and the deputy mayor in Musanze, the executive secretaries of the sectors, as well as village leaders.

The findings of the research resonated with the women, who had the opportunity to share their experiences. They highlighted a number of issues that they felt were particularly important, such as access to clean water and firewood, lack of information on work opportunities as they didn’t have time to socialise like the men, the provision of credit, and the need for skills and capacity development.

In Huye, after listening to stories of women’s experiences with breastfeeding while working on the VUP programme, there was a pledge to introduce mobile EDC centres to travel along to the VUP worksites. In addition, the mayor said that the long distances women complained of having travelled to work were the result of an excess of money which led to them having a worksite further away than they normally would be the case. There are now efforts in place to try and ensure work for women is allocated nearby to their homes so they do not have to travel so far. In addition, they said they are trying to make sure that women receive their money earlier.

In Musanze, after listening to the presentation there was a pledge to reopen the water pipes in the area.  

The experience with the district dissemination workshops reinforced to ActionAid Rwanda that mind-set change is necessary – it was found that unpaid care work was something that came as a surprise to those they were talking to in Huye but not so in Musanze, where they have been implementing sensitisation efforts which have led to men doing more care work and women more paid work.