Rwanda ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa best known as the Maputo Protocol on the 25th June 2004. Rwanda has made considerable progress in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. Most notably, as of January 2021, Rwanda is ranked first in the world according to the percentage of women in unicameral parliaments or the lower house of parliament, with 61.3% of members of the lower house being women and 38.5% in the upper house (IPU, 2021). However, despite these achievements, many challenges of inequality between men and women still exist.
To ensure compliance and effective implementation of the various national, regional and international commitments, the Government of Rwanda established the Gender Monitoring Office through the Constitution of 2003 revised in 2015.
The Law on Governing Persons and Family increased the minimum legal age of marriage from 18 to 21 for both men and women, without exceptions (Art. 168). Marriages of persons under the age of 21 are subject to automatic, absolute annulment (Art. 193).
The National Human Rights Action Plan 2017-2020 provides specific interventions for women’s rights. These include increasing women’s participation in decision-making positions at the local level, increasing women’s numbers in senior managerial positions in the private sector and increasing efforts to empower women economically. Interventions therein continue to be implemented by different actors in diversified domains
Rwanda allowed women to be the head of a household.
Rwanda gave women the same rights to remarry as men.
Gender Monitoring Office (2018) ‘Background’, available at: https://gmo.gov.rw/index.php?id=553
The Law on Governing Persons and Family is available at: https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/102818/124438/F-466022709/RWA-102818.pdf
Beijing +25 Country Report, available at: https://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/csw/64/national-reviews/rwanda.pdf?la=en&vs=5452
For the 2018 & 2021 reforms, see World Bank ‘Reforms – Rwanda’, available at: https://wbl.worldbank.org/en/reforms