What do Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Rwanda have in common? Not a lot, at least at first glance. For starters, all four Nordic countries are what the World Bank classes as high income, while Rwanda features on the UN list of 48 least developed nations.The disparity continues in almost every single area you can imagine, from electricity access (100% for the Nordics, 20% for Rwanda) to life expectancy (as high as 83 in Sweden compared to 65 in Rwanda).
But in spite of all these differences, there’s one character trait they all share: they’re the five global leaders when it comes to GENDER EQUALITY.
Firstly, let us reflect on the Economic situation of Rwanda: At 86%, Rwanda has one of the highest rates of female labour force participation in the world. In the US, for example, that figure stands at 56%, and has even been declining since the turn of the millennium. Not only are participation rates high, but the wage gap is narrower – in Rwanda, women earn 88 cents for every dollar men do; in the US, it’s just 74 cents.
Rwanda has an all time high of 61.3% female representation in Politics, while the men make up the rest 38.7%. This is in sharp contrast to Nigeria, “the giants of Africa” who have only 6.1 percent female representation in State Houses of Assembly, 3.9 percent female representation in the House of Representatives, 7.34 percent female representation in the Senate and almost zero percent female representation in the executive arm of government. In West Africa, Nigeria ranks even lower than Ghana Togo and Senegal who all have better Female representation in Leadership.
Prior to this feats achieved by Rwanda and other African countries, many were of the belief that gender equality, in particular, equal representation of women in leadership was a mere western agenda and not attainable in the African region. At this point, Rwanda has proved this beliefs to be false as they have even performed better than the US at this level. The Gender Agenda is attainable in Africa and Nigeria in particular, who currently ranks 122 out of 144 on the Global Gender Gap report by World Economic Forum (WEF). What is more appalling is the fact that Nigeria ranked 4 places better in 2017, a sign of progression or retrogression?
If Nigeria is to live up to the self-acclaimed title of “GIANTS OF AFRICA”, then we must wake up and narrow the gender gap between Nigeria and Rwanda, Mozambique, South-Africa, Ghana, Senegal and Togo, just to mention but a few of Nations who are recording massive successes in the quest for Gender Equality.
The bottom line remains, sustainable development is not achievable without the inclusion of women in leadership positions and other development processes.