Ending gender-based violence through grassroots women's empowerment: Lessons from post-1994 Rwanda


Cherry, Janet, and Celestin Hategekimana. 2013. “Ending Gender-Based Violence Through Grassroots Women’s Empowerment: Lessons From Post
1994 Rwanda.” Agenda: Empowering Women For Gender Equity 27 (1): 100–113. doi:10.1080/10130950.2013.793895.


Authors: Janet Cherry, Celestin Hategekimana


Recent research in Rwanda has revealed positive findings regarding the combating of gender-based violence. Rwanda is notorious for the 1994 genocide which involved not only extreme violence in the killing of over 800 000 people, but in the systematic use of rape as a weapon of war. A recent study of women's involvement in cooperatives in the former Mayaga1 region comes to the tentative conclusion that there is a correlation between women attaining a measure of economic independence, and a drop in gender-based violence. Close analysis of the context of this success suggests that it is based in two complementary strategies: a ‘bottom-up’ process of women's empowerment at local level, and a concerted programme of security sector reform – involving men as well as women – focussing on reducing gender-based violence. Linking the two is a range of institutions and organisations which provide for grassroots involvement of women in monitoring, policing and conflict management as well as economic empowerment.
Given the horrifying levels of gender-based violence in certain African countries, in particular South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), it is worthwhile to analyse the significance of the case study of the former Mayaga region of Rwanda. The Article concludes that there are lessons that can be generalised to South Africa and other countries, both from the relatively successful cooperative strategies adopted in Rwanda and from the strategies for addressing gender-based violence.

Keywords: gender based violence, cooperatives, women's empowerment, Rwanda

Topics: Armed Conflict, Economies, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gender Mainstreaming, Genocide, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Rape Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2013

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