Réseau des Femmes oeuvrant pour le développement rural has carried out studies on the major factors that hinder women full participation in development programs.
The main problems identified include poverty, gender inequality, lack of knowledge of human rights and particularly the rights of women, the low level of education, impacts of HIV / AIDS (according to a 1991 study ), low participation in decision making (1999).
Members’ ideas and the research findings greatly inspired the creation of new associations and structures to address specific women issues, such as DUTERIMBERE (for the promotion of female entrepreneurship) HAGURUKA (for the promotion of women and children rights), SWAA Rwanda / IHUMURE (in the field of HIV / AIDS).
Réseau des Femmes is one of 13 founding organizations of the Collective Pro-Femmes/Twese Hamwe created in 1992 to promote the culture of peace and development of women. Through this collective, lobby campaigns and advocacy of women are reinforced.
Réseau des Femmes initiated various associations and mechanisms for promoting women in their regions, like SEVOTA, Duhozanye Humura, CYESHURUGO, SANGWA, AMALIZA Y’UBULIZA, IZERE UKORE, MUTIMAWURUGO … and more cooperatives for the promotion a positive image of women.
Réseau des Femmes has played a key role for the establishment of a frame work for exchanges between Rwandan women and other stakeholders in gender issues and implementation strategies for the improvement of the women’s position and status. We can mention here the influence of the organization in the preparation and holding of various international conferences on the woman such as in Nairobi, Dakar and Beijing.
Réseau des Femmes was involved, in partnership with other stakeholders, in the advocacy for the implementation of international and national mechanisms for the advancement of women and gender.
The organization has also contributed for the inclusion gender issues in the national constitution.
International Day of Rural Women celebrated on 15 October each year, was celebrated for the first time in 1997 in Rwanda, through the initiative of Réseau des Femmes.
Gradually, Réseau des Femmes has gained a lot of partners in the preparation and celebration of that day. It was not until the year 2009 that day began to be celebrated on the initiative of the Government. Women, men, children join different institutions that are mobilized for the occasion for the purpose of women advocacy. This is also an opportunity to reflect on the positive image of women. Réseau des Femmes records partners on gender mainstreaming and produces tools that facilitate gender mainstreaming in developmental plans at all levels.
Réseau des Femmes has developed and implemented various programs that aim at women capacity building.
Advocacy on women behalf has been carried out in the socio-economic field, education, in the fight against violence, HIV / AIDS prevention, components of reproductive health, in peace building, and conflict prevention and resolution.
For more than 5 years (1997 to 2002), the Training Program of Réseau des Femmes (PROFORGI) has provided many trainings in gender issues in Ruhango, Muhanga and Nyanza, thanks to the SNV (Netherlands Development Organization) financial and technical support.
From 2003 – 2005, implementation of a Gender Mainstreaming program in Districts Development Plans and farmers’ organizations (PIG) with the support of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Rwanda.
- The district officials in charge of planning improved their knowledge in gender issues this happened where this program was implemented (Southern and Northern provinces);
- Tools on gender issues mainstreaming in development plans have been availed to the Districts;
- Gender sensitive districts development plans are produced and implemented;
- The capacity building for members, staff and partners of Réseau des Femmes in matter planning that takes into account gender inequalities took place;
- Réseau des Femmes contributed to the development of the MIGEPROF Gender (2005) training module. Réseau des Femmes is regularly consulted for services on gender issues;
- Creation and support to gender working groups in various fields (NGOs and public institutions).
From 2003-2006, the program “Women Can Do It” was implemented with the financial support from Norwegian People Aid (NPA). Women elected at the grass root levels were trained in Leadership and good governance.
From 2003-2005, research on gender issues and water in the lava region of the Northern Province was carried out. It was conducted with the technical and financial support of TROCAIRE and was followed by an advocacy project for women’s access to safe drinking water.
In 2004, a “Guide to Gender Mainstreaming for planners” with gender analysis tools was developed (Kinyarwanda and French version).
In 2006, a project for fight against domestic violence in the District of Nyamyumba and Rutsiro in partnership with Norwegian People Aid (NPA) was implemented. The project covered 400 households, 84 of which were strongly characterized by violence.
Training and dialogue led to behavior change from the project beneficiaries, according to testimonies collected (decreased ignorance about violence, fewer cases of polygamy among the project beneficiaries. We also recorded cases of men testifying that they no longer beat their wives and help them in various domestic chores).
In 2006, a study on access to Universal Primary Education and Education for All was done in Rwanda. The results were used to increase the involvement of the local civil society in advocacy. These actions were subsequently conducted in the field of education of children of school age, and girls in particular.
Currently, the situation in the country is commendable.
From the year 2001, the organization’s intervention in the fight against gender based violence was strengthened.
From 2007-2009, with the financial support from ActionAid International Réseau des Femmes implemented a program of fight against gender-based violence in primary and secondary schools, as well as in the community. This program covered 10 out of the 30 districts in the country. Today, 349 clubs are now in operation against violence in schools, while 133 clubs for adult men and women exist in the community.
From 2010 to 2011, rural women cooperatives supervised by Réseau des Femmes in GATSIBO, Rulindo and NYANZA Districts have received a revolving fund for the purpose of economic empowerment. These initiatives were funded by the collective Pro-Women/Twese Hamwe and ActionAid International.
From 2011 to date, Réseau des Femmes is implementing two projects related to HIV / AIDS namely the project “Women’s Property and Inheritance Rights in the Context of HIV/AIDS (WPIR) in the Districts of NYANZA and GASABO and Single Stream of Funding for HIV/AIDS (SSF/HIV) in four sectors of Nyamagabe District in the Southern Province.
These projects are funded respectively by UNWOMEN and Global Fund.
In the SSF / HIV project, 12 cooperatives of beneficiaries received training in matters related to the management of cooperatives, income generating projects and they have already received 36 cows. this year, 36 cows they will be donated to them.
Through Project Women’s Property and Inheritance rights in the context of HIV/AIDS, beneficiaries receive training and share views on HIV / AIDS prevention and the right to own property.
In 2011, a new partnership with Nyamagabe District was initiated for a project of economic empowerment of rural cooperatives through small livestock.
In 2012, research findings on the problems associated with property rights for women in the context of HIV / AIDS was published.
In 2012, in collaboration with Global Fund for Women (GFW), Réseau des Femmes implemented a project to fight against gender based violence.
The various achievements of Réseau des Femmes have been acknowledged both nationally and internationally, which has resulted in the various prizes that were won. These include:
In 2010, two prizes:
- International Star Award for Quality (ISAQ), awarded by Business Initiative Directions (BID) based in Spain;
- The Platinum Technology Award for Quality & Best Trade Name, awarded by OTHERWAYS Association Management & Consulting (OMAC) based in France.
In 2011, 6 prices:
- International Quality Summit (IQS);
- B.I.D-Platinum Award for Quality 2011;
- The Majestic Five Continents Award for Quality & Excellence;
- The Golden Award for Quality and Business Prestige;
- The New Era Award for Technology, Innovation & Quality;
- The European Award for Best Practices 2011;
Awarded respectively by BID (1 & 2), OMAC (price 2,3 & 4) and the European Society for Quality Research (ESQR).
In 2012, two prizes:
- Platinum Award for Quality 2012 awarded by Business Initiative Directions;
- The Golden Europe Award for Quality and Commercial Prestige OTHERWAYS.