Rwanda has since 2003 had a constitution that sets a 30% minimum quota for women representation across all leadership levels. But if proposals put before parliament on Wednesday is anything to go by, Rwandan men are worried women could take over governance of the country if no curbs are put in place now.

A lawmaker told a session of the Lower Chamber of the House on Wednesday morning that the quota creates a negative precedence for “our children in the future”.

The House was holding the final hearing of the constitutional amendments introduced earlier this month following a national consultative drive by MPs.

Opposition lawmaker Jean Pierre Hindura from the Social Democratic Party (PSD) said Article 77 stipulating the women quota should apply to both men and women.

“I am concerned that this article is discriminating against men,” said Hindura amid lengthy laughter, indication of the surprise with which the proposal had been received.

“If we continue like this, and eventually women end up with 100% control over everything – shall we still feel OK with the situation? We should not solve problems influenced by how we feel every morning. We should rather frame our laws considering what could happen in the long term.”

He added, “If we are to give minimum 30% quota, let it be for women as well as men.”

UwimanimpayeJeanne d’Arc, the Lower chamber vice president and part of the bureau commission which worked on the amendment proposals came to a swift defense of the 30% minimum quota.

“We are talking about an international convention, not a Rwandan exception,” she said, as MPs continued to laugh. The reaction of the House suggests even when one of their own had to raise such a proposal; it cannot see the light of day.

Uwimanimpaye said that the House should not only look at the parliament where women have 64% representation.

She said, “How many women are on the boards of banks? How many in private enterprises? We should look beyond the Parliament. We find that the constitutional quota is what Rwanda must have.”

More than 100 articles in the 2003 constitution are up for amendment, including Article 101 on presidential terms. This particular amendment will be decided on this Wednesday afternoon.


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