The Burden of Rapid Development: A Case Study of Women's Economic Empowerment in Post-Conflict Rwanda

Published: December 2011

This project seeks to examine the root cause of gender barriers preventing the majority of women in Rwanda from benefitting from economic opportunities despite access to such opportunities and strong political support for gender equality.

Key Findings

  • The executive branch appears to have the ultimate authoriy in governance.
  • Government effotts to legislate and implement gender policies and programmes are limited, and sometimes destructive, to women's economic empowerment because these approaches do not consider prevailing social norms and practices.
  • The Rwandan Government must carefully revise laws to consider normative barriers that constrain women's potential to make autonomous economic decisions, or else the success of economic empowerment strategies could be short-lived and the gains easily lost.
  • Historic gender roles continue to define relationships between men and women which counter government efforts to implement gender inclusive reforms.
  • Rwanda's patriarchal legacy continues to define gender roles and the dramatic shift in women's legal rights post-genocide.
  • There are substantial gaps in Rwanda's marital, inheritance and land legislation and customary laws continue to dominate in most rural areas.
  • Women are poorly represented at local levels of governance despite constitutional guarantees of a 30% female quota.
  • National policies encouraging women to engage in income generating activities do no account for the considerable amount of unpaid labour women perform at a houshold level.
  • Lack of time-saving technologies, environmental degradation, HIV/AIDS and high fertility rates are some of the practical challenges that increase women's domestic and care giving burden.
  • Men predominantly control household income and expenditure.
  • Discriminatory legal contraints restrict women's mobility, reproducive rights, and ability to accumulate property or assets.
  • GBV is a serious issue and may increase as women become more financially independent.
  • There is a general misconception associated with gender equality and this can cause resistance from men that feel their authority and entitlements are under threat.
  • Women may feel more comfortable expressing their viewpoints if they had the opportunity to converse in their native language with a woman that truly understands the cultural nuances of Rwandan society.

Populations Women

Complementary Outcomes Women's Rights

Publishers Simon Fraser University

Geographic Focus Africa (Central) / Rwanda