High Commissioner for the Republic of Rwanda Yamina Karitanyi says working together, no challenge is insurmountable
2018 MARKS NINE YEARS since Rwanda’s admittance to the Commonwealth of Nations, having joined in 2009 as only the second country to be admitted without any colonial or constitutional links to the UK.
This accession was testament to the progress that Rwanda made and the strides it continues to take towards meeting its development goals, all of which are in line with the objectives set out in the Charter of the Commonwealth. Chapter 12 of the Charter on Gender Equality resonates particularly with Rwanda, as our country has had the highest proportion of women in political leadership roles in the world for over nine years in a row, with 64 per cent in Parliament, 38 per cent in Senate, 43 per cent in Judiciary and 40 per cent in Cabinet, along with 43 per cent of registered business owners in Rwanda being women. This has contributed to Rwanda ranking fifth out of 144 countries on the WEF gender gap index, 2016.
These figures were not achieved merely by chance. Visionary leadership, reforms and home-grown solutions have been the driving forces. For instance, to achieve Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals on Gender Equality, Rwanda’s government has made it one of the fundamental principles guiding the Constitution, and Gender Equality is viewed as an essential component of human development and a basic human right.
Under an enlightened leadership, led by His Excellency President Paul Kagame, Rwanda has become a reference point for good governance, political stability with well-functioning institutions, observance of the rule of law and zero tolerance for corruption. Today, Rwanda ranks as the safest country to live in Africa and the second safest for women to walk alone (Gallup Report 2015), second easiest to do business in Africa (Doing Business Report 2018), a regional ICT and innovation hub, home to the world’s first drone delivery port for blood and vaccines, and provides a unique touristic destination for visitors from all over the world.
Conservation and the protection of the environment remain a priority. In 2007, Rwanda became the first country to legislate an outright ban of polythene bags and several other conservation initiatives continue to be implemented.
Having inherited a wounding history which resulted in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi where 1,074,017 people were killed, countless lives of innocent Rwandans were stolen, and the country’s limited infrastructure was destroyed, shaking the very core of our society, we are now firmly on our onward journey of healing, rebuilding and developing our nation, and we are doing so with a renewed sense of hope and resilience.
As the second youngest member of the Commonwealth, we believe that by sharing our story and experiences with other Commonwealth nations and learning from others’ who have achieved what we are striving to achieve, we can motivate each other to attain our development goals, in record time and with efficiency. The Commonwealth offers a clear opportunity to share best-practices amongst member states and learn from both our mistakes and successes, as we continue to work towards a Common Future.
As His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, noted, “The Commonwealth is a family which can be strengthened by each members’ contribution and cooperation. If member states ignore their failings and do not share their lessons, that will only weaken the Commonwealth. If we all work together, there is no challenge that is insurmountable.”