October 9, 2019

Why Empowering Women Will Boost Rwanda’s Growth – World Bank

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A woman working in her rice field in Bugarama marshlands in Rusizi district – the region producing more than others in Rwanda.

In the quest to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable economic growth in Africa, the equal contributions of women and men are crucial, the World Bank said Wednesday.

Africa quite simply cannot afford to lose out on the earnings potential of half its population, the Bank said in its latest Africa’s Pulse report released today.

“Empowering women will help boost growth. African policy makers face an important choice: business as usual or deliberate steps toward a more inclusive economy,” said Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for Africa. “After several years of slower-than-expected growth, closing the opportunity gap for women by removing barriers to their economic participation is the best way forward.”

Nearly 53% of Rwanda’s population is women. There is evidence through some small initiatives in Rwanda that bringing them on board boosts family development, thereby community and country.

Rwanda’s pilot land tenure regularization program, which registered husbands and wives as joint owners of land, resulted in a boost in rural land investment for female-headed households
by 19 percent.

This program also recognized the need for the inclusion of non-formally married women, such as those with common-law unions, when designing a formalization program to ensure that no groups are left behind.

Another initiative was a training intervention for couples known locally as “Bandebereho” – Kinyarwanda for “role model”. It engaged expectant fathers and their partners in participatory, small group sessions of critical reflection and dialogue on gender and power, fatherhood, couples’ communication and decision making, violence, caregiving, child development, and engagement of men in reproductive and maternal health.

Participants in “Bandebereho” reported higher levels of men’s participation in childcare and household tasks compared with participants in a comparison group who did not receive the training.

However, other aspects of the global economic environment are impacting the continent with varying degrees.

Global uncertainty is taking a toll on growth well beyond Africa, and real GDP growth is also expected to slow significantly in other emerging and developing regions.

Overall growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to rise to 2.6 percent in 2019 from 2.5 percent in 2018, which is 0.2 percentage points lower than the April forecast.

Beyond Sub- Saharan Africa’s regional averages, the picture is mixed. The recovery in Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola—the region’s three largest economies—has remained weak and is weighing on the region’s prospects. In Nigeria, growth in the non-oil sector has been sluggish, while in Angola the oil sector remained weak. In South Africa, low investment sentiment is weighing on economic activity.

“Africa’s economies are not immune to what is happening in the rest of the world, and this is reflected in the subdued growth rates across the region,” said Albert Zeufack, Chief Economist for Africa at the World Bank. “At the same time, evidence clearly links poor governance to poor growth performance, so efficient and transparent institutions should be on the priority list for African policy makers and citizens.”

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