Rwanda Family and women

Rwanda Social Structure

Alphabetized adults: 70.8% (HDR 2019)

Major religions: Christianity approx. 90% (predominantly RK), Islam approx. 5%

Urban population: 17.2% (HDR 2019)

Life expectancy (female / male): 70.8 / 66.5 years (HDR 2019)

Gender Inequality Index: Rank 95 out of 162, 2018

Number of births: 4.1 / woman (2015)

Infant mortality: 29.9 / 1000 live births (HDR 2019)

Urban-rural relationship

A good 70% of the population lives in rural areas. The urban population, the number of which is continuously increasing as a result of the rural exodus, often lives in an insecure existence. Only the smaller and well-educated proportion can find a permanent job. For many, the dream of a regular income and a decent living situation ends in the simple accommodation on the outskirts of the city.

To control the urbanization process, the Rwandan government formulates its plans in the “ National Urban Housing Policy ”, which is currently being consistently implemented. Unlike many large cities in neighboring countries, informal settlements are not widespread in Rwanda. The simplest houses usually consist of air-dried adobe walls and a corrugated iron roof. Even with the city’s relatively rapid expansion, slum areas play a rather subordinate role. Strict measures against the spread of new informal settlements are the order of the day, and some of the existing ones are even being demolished. New construction areas are more likely to be dominated by modern housing estates, and not infrequently also by residential areas.

According to internetsailors, the Rwandan labor market is dominated by agriculture. 73% of all employees work there. Unemployment figures have no significant informative value in what is still a large non-monetary production area (informal sector). Of the entire working-age population (ie 16 years and older), according to official data from the last census(August 2012) – 74% employed. Unemployment is seen more as an urban phenomenon. In urban areas it is 7.7%, which is twice that of the national level (3.4%). In rural areas, the National Institute for Statistics in Kigali estimates an unemployment rate of 2.6%. Young people (16-35 years old) are most affected. The KESC (Kigali Employment Service Center) was founded to facilitate contact between job seekers and employers. The center, initiated by the city of Kigali in cooperation with the responsible Ministry of Public Services and Employment, offers job seekers additional assistance in the form of advice and training. The German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) accompanies the project as a development partner.

Family and women

The focus of social life is still the extended family with their traditional solidarity structures, which protect the poorer sections of the population from impoverishment and hunger.

A Rwandan family has an average of five children. Children are traditionally considered a blessing and happiness and contribute to the reputation of women in society. They are an indispensable tool in the household and in agriculture, but are also understood as providing for old age. The generally extremely large population density of the country and the associated family planning policy of the government are increasingly leading to a rethinking in society. Over the past few years, for example, there has been a notable decline in the birth rate.

Men, women and children share the work in the family farm. Most of the work in the house and yard is done by women. They have to produce food and are responsible for raising children.

Women did not stand out in public in traditional Rwandan society. Except in exceptional cases, the Rwandan woman was subordinate to her husband or father and was not allowed to speak in the presence of men. Their sphere of influence and power lay in the family. Today the position of women in society is no longer so strongly shaped by tradition.

The 1994 genocide left hundreds of thousands of widows and orphans. This has permanently changed the role of women in Rwandan society. Many women suddenly had to take over the duties of head of the family because their husbands and fathers had been killed or were in prison. In the past, women could not inherit or become head of the family. This regulation has now been repealed by the new legislation. Since then, the state has also endeavored to ensure equal rights for women in other areas how to admit men. The new constitution from 2003 shows clearly women-friendly features. At least 30% of all positions in decision-making bodies must be given to women. Today, for example, the proportion of women in parliament is 61%, which puts Rwanda in first place worldwide. The importance of women in the economy has grown accordingly. There are great challenges in this; the still – strongly dominated by the traditional female role – of reconciling with today’s reality.

However, many women still suffer from extremely severe post-traumatic stress as a result of the genocide.

Rwanda Family and women

About the author