Jean Luc Kubwimana 40, woke up on August 6th to routine work; carrying passengers on his motor cycle which is a source of daily income.
However, later in the day he received a phone call from a member of the motor taxi association informing him to suspend business and join colleagues at Amahoro stadium for a campaign rally dubbed HeForShe.
“As a motorcyclist, stopping work for an hour is a big loss of the day. You first of all count the number of passengers and the money you would be collecting,” he told KT Press.
Kubwimana struggled to understand which campaign he was called for. He couldn’t understand the real cause of abandoning work.
“I got into the subject of the day. With lessons on gender based violence and protection of women and girls’ rights, I realized that I could make a big contribution,” Kubwimana told KT Press.
In January this year, during the World Economic Forum in Davos-Switzerland, President Paul Kagame joined ten heads of state, United Nations Secretary General, heads of Multi-national Corporations and leading university professors and researchers, to sign for the campaign.
HeForShe is a UN-Women’s international initiative aimed at mobilizing everyone, especially men and youth, to create and increase awareness on gender equality, the fight against gender based violence and promotion of ICT for all, under the IMPACT 10X10X10.
Kagame who places women emancipation at the forefront in his government says; “men who standby as a woman is violated are a bigger problem than the perpetrators,” He said while officially launching the 2nd of Africa United Command Post Exercise- a Pan-African joint military exercise to increase security organs’ capacities to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls.
Leading By Example
For Kagame, every man in Rwanda and the World should join the HeForShe campaign.
He told members of the African security organs that; “Together with others, I am a very proud champion of the campaign involving HeForShe, and I am inviting you to join.”
While at the official inauguration of HeForShe initiative in Davos, President Kagame was the first to raise a hand in support of the campaign and immediately signed and made commitments to support the campaign.
“When women advance, everyone benefits. The key principle, in addition to understanding gender equality as a human right, is to use talents of all our people to full potential, in politics, business and elsewhere. This is common sense if we want to advance and improve our societies,” Kagame said.
Kagame’s government, a global leader with highest number of women in key decision making positions; vowed to uproot Gender-Based Violence, increase and mobilize more Rwandan girls into ICT sector as well as pushing higher girls’ enrollment into technical vocational education and training (TVETs).
According to Ladislas Ngendahimana, communications expert at local government ministry, 46% of all decision making positions at district level are held by women.
Eventually, the 2014 World Economic Forum Global Index Report ranked Rwanda as Africa’s best performer in closing the gender gap, and 7th out of 142 countries.
However, available statistics show that Rwanda still needs to put more efforts in mobilizing girls into ICT sector. The country aims at transforming into a knowledge-based middle income economy in the next five years.
According to available data from Ministries of education and ICT; women represent 34% of higher education ICT graduates, while 25% of them hold certificates in ICT and 20% of employees in the ICT sector. The rest are occupied by men.
Tracking Human Traffickers Under HeForShe
Despite Rwanda’s high ranking in women empowerment, the country is also facing challenges of human trafficking.
According to national police, a number of suspects have in recent years been arrested while selling young girls and women as sex workers outside the country.
To curb the vice, “Taxi motor operators are the right partner of the government in stimulating the HeForShe campaign,” Camarade Abdul, head of taxi motor operators in Kabuga, a city suburb told KT Press.
Abdul notes that taxi motor operators are the primary service providers of human traffickers and gender-based violence architects.
“They (Taxi motor operators) transport these criminals at night. They also transport these girls to hotels. Now that they are sensitized and understand what HeForShe is all about, motorists will act as whistle blowers to police,” he told KT Press.
After Kagame endorsed the HeForShe initiative in Davos with his signature; since June this year, 1,150 men and boys have signed to join the campaign that has kicked off countrywide.
According to Fatuma Ndangiza, deputy CEO of Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), the target is to get 100,000 signatures before the end of the year.
The campaign also targets; law enforcement organs, govern and civil society organisations, youths, among others.
In the region, Kenya leads with 1622 signatures, followed by Rwanda, Uganda with 326 signatures, Tanzania 101 signatures and DRC with 63 signatures.
UN-Women targets at least 500,000 global signatures. Currently, 418,159 signatures have been reached globally, with US leading the campaign with 79,168 signatures.