Yokohama, 2 June 2013

President Kagame was the keynote speaker during a thematic session on “Driving Development through Gender Equality” chaired by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark alongside President Banda of Malawi and President Sirleaf of Liberia.

Speaking on the importance of gender equality, President Kagame began by emphasizing the need to ensure that equal opportunity remains a responsibility shared by all:

“The question that we must address now is how to make more progress in removing the barriers to equal opportunity and promote greater empowerment. That will be done when we all recognise that the question of equality should be part of our values as a society and therefore an obligation to raise everyone to a level where they can play their rightful role in development.”

President Kagame shared the example of Rwanda as a nation that has institutionalized gender equality and recognizes women empowerment as essential for the nation’s development:

“In Rwanda today, the debate is not about women’s role or whether they should be empowered or not. That is a given. For us it is a moral, justice, human rights  as well as a development issue.  We have always regarded the equal participation of women in all aspects of national life, including the liberation struggle, as crucial to the socio-economic transformation of our country.”

Pointing to Rwanda’s 30% women representation as constitutional requirement as an example of a gender equality legislation that continue to exceed expectations, President Kagame added that education and access to equal economic participation are  the two most important factor in ensuring a truly equal society:

“We recognize that the political and legal gains that women have made alone are not enough, they must be supported by financial empowerment. All of us involved in breaking down barriers of inequality know that one effective solution is to provide access to equal opportunities in education, employment, credit and property ownership, and the legal and institutional framework to support it.”

President Kagame concluded by stressing the importance for all nations to view gender equality as a long without which nations will not develop:

“Gender inequality is an old and systemic problem that must end as Africa’s development challenges require the contribution of all our citizens. The African people, men and women alike, only ask to realise their full potential and enjoy dignified lives.”