Researching the politics of development



Political settlements, women’s representation and gender equality: The 2008 gender-based violence law and gender parity in primary and secondary education in Rwanda

Working paper 94

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Jennie E. Burnet and Jeanne d’Arc Kanakuze
This paper explores the ways in which power and politics shape the realisation of women’s rights and gender equity in Rwanda. In the past decade, Rwanda has become a global leader in increasing women’s inclusion in politics and in promoting and securing women’s rights. This paper considers legislative reform, policy formulation and policy implementation in two areas: gender-based violence and gender parity in education. The paper injects a gender analysis into the political settlement theoretical framework and seeks to answer two questions: (1) how do women and other actors (including formal and information institutions, powerbrokers and other key decision-makers) negotiate within Rwanda’s dominant-party form of political settlement? And (2) how does Rwanda’s political settlement shape gender equity policy outcomes?
This study found that Rwanda’s success in terms of women’s rights is the result of its vibrant women’s movement, the political will of the dominant party, the expertise of professional technocrats in the government administration, and a system of performance contracts, which shapes bureaucratic behaviour through to the frontline of service delivery. These findings are significant because they highlight the importance of a highly qualified, professional cadre in government and of accountability within government administration for securing women’s rights.