Rwanda adopted its most recent National Action Plan (NAP) in 2018 for the period 2018-2022. The NAP was developed by a Steering Committee, which was composed of ten ministries, in consultation with civil society members, including women’s organizations. The NAP is organized under five overarching pillars: participation and leadership of women in decision-making; prevention of violence against women and involvement in conflict prevention; protection from violence; equal access to means of relief, economic recovery and rehabilitation; and women’s promotion and gender mainstreaming in Rwanda’s foreign service and international and regional cooperation. Each objective has corresponding actions, indicators, and a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework, but the NAP does not have an allocated budget.
Rwanda’s second NAP is preceded by one other NAP adopted in 2009 and implemented for the period 2009-2012. Rwanda’s second NAP builds on an evaluation of and lessons learned from the implementation of the previous NAP, which provided a post-conflict framework to the country for women’s participation in peace and security processes and the fight against sexual and gender-based violence. The NAP takes a close look at the incremental gains achieved as a result of concerted efforts to implement UNSCR 1325 and the WPS agenda in Rwanda as well as challenges that continue to face the country in addressing women’s meaningful participation in all facets of life, the occurrence of sexual and gender based violence, and access to resources. Unlike the first Rwandan NAP, where a set of timeframes for specific activities were included in the budget, and was generally one of the most detailed budgets found among NAPs, the second NAP does not provide a budget within the plan.
Rwanda reported on the implementation of its NAP, as well as WPS commitments, in its national reporting for Beijing+25 and in preparation for CSW64 (2020). Specifically, the country reported that women represent 44.3% of community mediators and 48% of the access to Justice Bureaus. It also reported on women’s involvement in disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration processes, including through grassroots cooperatives of women ex-combatants, but indicated that further work is needed to integrate women more fully into peace processes (p. 46).
Rwanda gained independence in 1962 from Belgium, after decades of colonial rule. The most recent armed conflict in Rwanda’s history is the 1994 civil war, which resulted in a genocide where an estimated 800,000-1 million people, mostly the Tutsi minority, were killed by the majority Hutus. The war had a distinct gendered impact on women, as rape was systematically used as a weapon of war. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was established in 1994 to prosecute the perpetrators of the genocide, and for the first time in international law, the court recognized sexual violence as a component of genocide.
The Rwandan government placed particular emphasis on post-conflict reconstruction in the aftermath of the war, with women playing a key role in recovery efforts. This concerted effort resulted in a constitution that implemented a mandatory 30% quota for women in elected positions. Today, Rwanda is a world leader in women’s political representation, with women holding over 60% of positions in the lower house. Despite this promising number, structural barriers still exist to women’s equal rights in daily life.