By Gift Briton

Efforts by a Rwandan umbrella group of 53 civil society organizations (CSOs), Pro-Femmes/Twese Hamwe (PFTH), to reduce gender inequalities in public investment are bearing fruits.

Under the Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) programme, PFTH, in collaboration with key government stakeholders, managed to influence the review of public investment policy in Rwanda to address gender-based barriers in the policy.

The organization was mandated to ensure that Rwanda’s investment policy is gender responsive and provides equal opportunities to women and men in all investment sectors.

“Although the national investment policy dates back to 2017, it was gender-blind and was not known among gender institutions, advocates, and experts. It also did not consider gender barriers or ways to overcome them, and it did not include any gender institution among the implementing partners,” Ernest Bucyayungura, Director of Programs at PFTH, said in a virtual meeting with ScienceAfrica.

“We called for the review of public investment policy, convened a workshop to analyze the policy, and the Ministry of Finance agreed to revise the policy and considered our inputs.”

Bucyayungura attributes their success in influencing the Policy review to close collaboration and coordination with government consultants in key ministries and the private sector. He adds that the PFTH trained journalists on gender equality and women’s empowerment so that they could mainstream gender in their reporting.

“We worked closely with the Ministry of Finance to get our suggestions and recommendations accepted. The approval of our recommendations was fast because key institutions such as the parliament and cabinet are keen on entrenching gender equality in all government activities,” he said.

PFTH is one of 15 organizations in five countries in East Africa funded by the IDRC, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to develop effective approaches and solutions to improving women’s lives and livelihoods.

The GrOW programme promotes women’s socioeconomic prosperity in the region and covers four broad themes: women’s care responsibilities, women’s access to jobs, economic growth and gender equality, and economic policies.

Currently, PFTH, alongside its implementing partner ActionAid, is jointly working with the Rwandan Ministries of Gender and Finance to include gender mainstreaming strategies into the investment policy to make it gender-responsive. This will be followed by disseminating the policy and training local leaders and other key policy actors to include gender mainstreaming into investment policy.

“The simplified draft manual of the national investment policy is now available, lobby meetings are under way with key ministries to discuss the need for a gender mainstreaming strategy in the investment sector, and PFTH has agreed with the Ministry of Gender to jointly conduct a gender mainstreaming training for 100 key policy actors planned for March 2024,” Bucyayungura adds.

“Being an umbrella organization, we formed thematic working groups. Through these thematic working groups, civil society organizations come together to influence policy in their respective thematic areas.”

Bucyayungura urged CSOs to keep an eye on the policy processes to ensure that they cater to the needs of their interest groups, emphasizing that PFTH continues to work with relevant government ministries to develop a gender mainstreaming strategy in the investment sector and to speed up the dissemination of simplified investment policy manual which will be translated to Kinyarwanda.