Partnership is vital for women to address their challenges and gain self-reliance, Gender and Family Promotion minister Diane Gashumba has said.
Addressing the 15th General Assembly of National Women Council (NWC), on Saturday, Dr Gashumba noted that partnership between the women council, local leaders, government institutions and civil societies was necessary in addressing society challenges.
The meeting evaluated the council's performance, challenges, and experiences to forge the way forward.
"Working together will empower women, enhance welfare, and ensure development of the society and of country in general," she said.
She commended the efforts put in by all provinces and the City of Kigali in improving family livelihoods and women in particular.
She urged women to return to their villages and sensitise residents about government programmes such as family planning.
"We will not develop when people are still giving birth to more than seven children when they do not have viable economic activities to support the children. You have to educate and engage them into cooperatives to enable them contribute to other government development projects," Gashumba said.
Francoise Uwumukiza, the head of National Women Council, said they put much effort in parent's forums to solve family conflicts.
At least 135 women groups in seven districts have formed cooperatives, according to performance reports.
"Much has been done by the government to empower us, this is why we need to work as a team to achieve financial independency for all Rwandan women," she said.
Uwumukiza cited poverty, domestic violence, conflicts, ignorance, malnutrition, illiteracy and poor access to ICT facilities among the challenges that needed to be addressed.
She called for youth and men's participation in the fight against gender-based violence and other vices against women.
Crucial role of women
Agnes Uwamahoro, the coordinator of the National Women Council in Rutsiro District, told The New Times that there is remarkable progress in rural families in terms of mindset change and financial development.
"Women are joining cooperatives and working with financial institutions to get loans to create jobs. This is a good step that had never happened before, so we want to keep up advocacy for some issues yet to be addressed," she said.
Damien Ngabonziza, the chairperson of Board of Commissioners National Youth Council, who also attended the assembly, said gender equality should not be mistaken to destroy cultural values.
"I have observed that women who lead villages are still few and at the district leadership committees, yet if women played a bigger role in village leadership they would manage well programmes like parents' forums," he said.
"A woman is a good leader who cares about people's lives and one who easily knows what is going wrong inside households. She would best handle them."
The assembly attracted women representatives from all districts, provinces and City of Kigali, women legislators and civil societies.