Friday, May 16, 2008

Rwandan Women

An interesting article in today's WaPo dishes on the women of Rwanda's genocide survivor generation.
The march of female entrepreneurialism, playing out here and across Rwanda in industries from agribusiness to tourism, has proved to be a windfall for efforts to rebuild the nation and fight poverty. Women more than men invest profits in the family, renovate homes, improve nutrition, increase savings rates and spend on children's education, officials here said...

"They say that women care more about the family, but I do not know if that is true," Mukandayisenga said. "I think it has more to do with the self-control woman show in hard times. We know how to survive when men despair"... In the effort to finance the reduction of poverty in the developing world, many leading experts said that women simply make better investments.

Today women hold about 48 percent of the seats in Rwanda's parliament, the highest percentage in the world...Today, 41 percent of Rwandan businesses are owned by women -- compared for instance with 18 percent in Congo.
It doesn't waste any effort trying to be even-handed: men are pretty much trashed by the article, and the data backs up the trashing. This raises a few questions, including whether women's aptitude for development is universal, and what can be done to change men's attitudes towards money.

Africa Mission Alliance, a Christian education and development organization that Global Review supports, has contributed towards women's empowerment. On my recent visit to Rwanda, I was introduced to a woman who was given sewing classes and a sewing machine worth $200, and has used the capital to become a seamstress and shopkeeper.

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