The Parliament of Rwanda is hosting the 145th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and its related meetings in Kigali from this week, where more than 1200 delegates, will hold discussions on the theme ‘Gender equality and gender-sensitive parliaments as drivers of change for a more resilient and peaceful world’.
The delegation which includes some 60 Speakers and Deputy Speakers of Parliaments, ends tomorrow Saturday, and the IPU will facilitate exchanges on good practices to make parliaments more gender sensitive as well as encouraging parliaments to pledge transformative action.
Rwanda was the ideal destination as it leads the way when it comes to gender equality in its parliament. In 2008, the Rwanda Chamber of Deputies was the first elected national parliament with more women than men. With the proportion of MPs who are women standing at 61.25% today, well above the current global average of 26.4%, Rwanda has been at the top of the IPU’s monthly ranking of women in national parliaments for years.
Rwanda also has a relatively young parliament, with half of its deputies under 45 years old, well above the global average of 29.85%, also tracked by the IPU.
At its Assemblies and meetings, the IPU continues to push for gender parity and youth participation, using incentives but also sanctions to encourage inclusive parliamentary delegations. The results are visible, with over 35% of MPs who attend the IPU Assembly being women, compared with an average of 7% in 1978. Around 25% of the participating MPs are under the age of 45.
The Assembly will also consider what parliamentary action to take on international migration and how to stop human-trafficking and human rights abuses, including those that are state-sponsored.
Other issues under consideration include environmental degradation and its effects on the proliferation of terrorism; the impact of war and atrocity on civilian populations; war and climate change as triggers of global food insecurity; and the situation of the human rights of parliamentarians.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has called on the IPU to ensure that every effort is made to make significant global impacts in the promotion of peace, gender equality, and sustainable development.
The IPU is the global organization of national parliaments. It began in 1889 as a small group of parliamentarians, dedicated to promoting peace through parliamentary diplomacy and dialogue, and has since grown into a global organization of national parliaments. IPU’s membership stands at 178 Member Parliaments ,14 Associate Members.
In line with gender mainstreaming in leadership, the Kenyan Parliament was the first to use IPU’s new toolkit on evaluating the gender sensitivity of parliaments.
The toolkit is an outcome of the Plan of Action for Gender-Sensitive Parliaments adopted in 2012 by the 127th IPU Assembly. It is designed to help parliaments assess themselves on criteria such as women’s representation, the parliamentary culture and the ability to deliver on gender equality. It also assists them in determining how parliaments can be transformed into gender-sensitive institutions.
Article 27(8) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides that the State shall take steps to ensure that not more than two-thirds of members of all elective and appointive positions are not of the same gender. This law is yet to be fully implemented; a move that has been cited as a persistent barrier to women leadership in Kenya.
However, there is hope following the election of more women in the August 2022 election, with at least seven counties, of the 47, having elected female governors, compared to the previous cycle which saw only four counties led by female governors.
The past election also saw 22 women, out of the confirmed results for 108 seats, had been elected, while seven had won back their seats. This tally excludes the 47 seats allocated to women Representatives.