Political parties should be prepared to make gender equality one of their core goals during the September parliamentary elections, representatives of political parties at central and provincial levels heard on Friday.
Speaking at the meeting, the Forum for Political Parties (FFPP) Spokesperson, MP Elisabeth Mukamana, said that the meeting was an opportunity for leaders of political parties, members of the forum commissions and other stakeholders to discuss how to ensure that gender equality principles are adhered to during the upcoming elections.
Parliamentary elections are slated for September 2 and 3.
"Political parties are required to avoid any discrimination that is based on gender. In fact, the FFPP and its members adheres to the principles of gender equality and that's why every three months when the general assembly meets, all our members are required to send an equal number of men and women as representatives," he said.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)'s Head of Governance Unit, Nadine Umutoni Rugwe, told participants that the time to boost the efforts to promote gender equality is now calling on political parties to take on the championing role.
"Promoting gender equality must be promoted no matter the political party. What we need is action, in our short and long term plans, in our agenda. Political parties can help us build leadership of gender equality because we need leaders who are directly involved and are ready to serve men, women, boys and girls," she said.
Rugwe said that Rwandans deserve leaders who are going to address inequality when they see it and take a bold decision to be involved.
"We have had time to think about it, it's now time to move on from rhetoric to action," she said.
Carine Umwali, from the Ideal Democratic Party (PDI) appealed to the political organisations that have women empowerment to visit women on the grassroots level and explain the gender equality concept better.
"There is a misunderstanding of what gender equality is on the grassroots level. There are women who have mistakenly taken this as some sort of competition with men. I would like to suggest that all levels that have women in their line of work to take this on and go back to the basics on the grassroots level and educate these women on what gender balance is," she said.
In total, 24 women are elected to represent different provinces and the City of Kigali through the National Women Council.
Of these, six women legislators are elected each from Southern, Western and Eastern provinces. Northern Province is represented by four women while the City of Kigali gets two.
Other colleges are the youth, who, through the National Youth Council (two representatives) while the People With Disabilities through their council have one legislator representing them.
Fifty-three members of the Lower House will be picked through universal suffrage, which brings it to a total of 80 legislators constituting the Lower Chamber of Parliament.