I am honoured to join you today, to open the Women Deliver Conference.

Welcome to Kigali, and I hope that you will enjoy your stay in our country. Please feel at home.

We are honoured to host the first-ever Women Deliver Conference held in Africa.

Allow me to commend Women Deliver, and all of you participating this week, for leading the fight for gender equality, worldwide.

This conference is taking place at a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty, and the debates taking place here, do matter for all of us.

In recent decades, there have been meaningful results, in closing the gap between women and men, in terms of opportunity and achievement.

Still, across the globe, women remain vulnerable to various forms of injustice, and are more often employed in the informal sector, or even expected to provide unpaid labour.

These inequalities have been exacerbated by some political pushback movements, in certain contexts.

Moreover, women and girls have borne a disproportionate share of the burden, of the overlapping health, climate, and economic crises, which the world has faced over the past few years.

Recent studies show that it could take more than a century to achieve gender equality targets, at current rates of progress.

We must challenge ourselves to do things differently, and with a sense of urgency.

Commitments, which are not followed by action, cannot fulfil our promise to build a more just, equitable, and prosperous future for the generations that follow us.

Much more remains to be done, to tackle biased attitudes about gender, which are deeply embedded in our political, social, and economic systems.

All of us share the responsibility, to play an active role in changing these negative mindsets.

In Rwanda, we have created an enabling environment for women to be equally represented in leadership positions, including in politics, and at all levels.

Our priorities are to advance gender equality across all sectors, especially digital and financial inclusion, and to continue challenging traditional gender norms.

A key tool we have mainstreamed in Rwanda, is the annual Gender Budget Statement, to ensure that public spending takes account of how budgetary decisions affect men and women differently.

We also invest in programs to engage men at the community level, about the importance of sharing child care responsibilities, and preventing domestic violence.

As the world rapidly evolves, we must join forces, to ensure that advances in technology work for all of us, rather than creating new sources of inequality.

In that regard, I thank the partners who support Women Deliver, and similar efforts here in Rwanda, and beyond.

Change is difficult and does not happen overnight.

But together, with sustained effort, we can make a decisive difference.

I am looking forward to listening to the panel discussion.

I am confident my friend, President Macky Sall, will not feel too outnumbered. In any case, I know we can count on him to represent us well.

So we shall be sharing that pain that is common in other situations where it’s always the case that women have been outnumbered to almost being absent.

When we have had panels in the past talking about women and we find it’s all men on the panel. So, the opposite today is not a bad thing at all.

Once again, I welcome you all to Kigali, and I wish you a very productive conference.

Thank you for your kind attention.