Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame, will be the toast of Dakar when hundreds of people from across Africa and beyond assemble in Senegal on 7-8 June to celebrate the African Gender Award, which was given to him this year by the Geneva-based NGO, Femmes Africa Solidarite (FAS), through its Pan-African Centre for Gender, Peace and Development based in the Senegalese capital.
The award is given to an African leader or group in government who demonstrate outstanding achievement in furthering gender mainstreaming in the economic and political spheres, as well as addressing social and cultural barriers that impede the involvement and advancement of women in national affairs. Two other categories are also awarded--the first to a private sector organisation; and the second to a civil society group that actively promotes women's issues. But this year, FAS decided to give only the leader's award, which went to President Kagame, almost hands down, for the extraordinary work his country has done on women's issues since the genocide in 1994, including ensuring that women representation in parliament currently stands at 48.8%, the highest in the world.
The award was announced on 29 January on the fringes of the AU Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Making the announcement, the president of the Pan-African Parliament, Getrude Mongella, a member of the award's selection committee, paid profuse praise on Rwanda for promoting women's issues, saying that today half of the country's judges are women, and a new constitution, which is still being written, has set aside a 30% quota of...