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Paul Kagame, the toast of Dakar: all roads will lead to the Senegalese capital, Dakar, on 7-8 June when the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, is honoured at the African Gender Award ceremony. Tom Mbakwe reports.

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 women's representation in political decision-making.

The government has also created a parallel system of women's council's and women's-only elections which guarantee a women's mandate for all elected bodies, and a triple balloting system guaranteeing the election of women to a percentage of seats at sector and district levels.

According to the executive director of FAS, Bintu Diop from Senegal, her group created the award in 2005 in response to the AU's Sacred Declaration of Gender Equality in Africa, which was adopted in July 2004. The first award went jointly to Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal. Paul Kagame gets the second. This year's ceremony will follow the African Gender Forum on 7 June. It will be the largest women's gathering held in Africa this year.

Designed as a space to unite women from disparate areas so they can exchange ideas, the theme will be on gender and migration. The forum is expected to come out with new strategies to minimise the negative impact of migration on African women and development, and also to maximise its positive effects.

The forum will be held in partnership with international organisations working in the field of migration, including the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) and the Spanish government.
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Title Annotation:Feature
Author:Mbakwe, Tom
Publication:New African
Geographic Code:6RWAN
Date:May 1, 2007
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