40 staff working for a number of development and social welfare-related projects in Nyaruguru district, Southern Rwanda, on Wednesday ended a two-day training workshop on how to make their projects as gender sensitive as possible.
The workshop, under the auspices of UN Women, Nyaruguru district's Joint Action Development Forum (JADF) and Rwanda's Gender Monitoring Office (GMO), comes as an eye-opener, some of the participants uphold.
One of them is Espérance Munganyinka, an Assistant Project Officer at "Igiti cy'Ubugingo" (or, literally, the "tree of life"), a Butare Catholic Diocese-funded NGO dealing with counseling HIV/AIDS-positive people and assisting widows in the districts of Nyaruguru, Huye and Gisagara.
"I have learnt how to give our beneficiaries equal opportunities, men and women alike. But I used to favor men especially when it comes to cooperatives by giving much value to their physical strength", said Munganyinka.
"That mentality is no more. I will be making sure that the number of participants is gender sensitive by incorporating as many women as a way of empowering them as well", Munganyinka added.
And the change of that "mentality", it seems, is what has been driving organizers of this training workshop.
"The purpose is to train our partners in a bid to have the same understanding of gender concept", said Fabien Niyitegeka, Nyaruguru district's Deputy Mayor in charge of Finance, Economy and Development and JADF's Vice President in the district.
In 2011, the same training workshop took place in Nyaruguru district. And its repeat for another partners' intake this year around, kind of depicts the district's interest to keep enhancing the knowledge on gender issues to better serve the local population.
Meanwhile, some media reports already rank Rwanda as a model of gender equality in the world, partly because of its highest number of women MPs in the world and how women are represented from the grassroots upwards. One headline goes a step further to read as follows: "Rwanda: The Land of Gender Equality?"