Kigali – On March 11th, 2022, the Gender Monitoring Office (GMO), the Private Sector Federation (PSF), UNDP and UN WOMEN certified nine private companies and recognized four public institutions and six private companies for their outstanding efforts to promote gender accountability.
The move is in line with a joint programme “Gender Equality Seal Programme” initiated in 2017 with the aim to support private sector companies to promote gender equality and accountability through their businesses. It was initiated by GMO with the support of UNDP Rwanda and in collaboration with UN WOMEN. Rwanda is the first country in Africa to implement this innovative initiative.
The nine private companies were awarded with a Golden Gender Equality Seal while one received a silver for having achieved a higher progress in promoting gender equality and accountability in their businesses and workplace. Those include MTN Rwanda, Wolfram Mining and Processing Ltd, Development Bank of Rwanda, ECOBANK, Safari Centre, I&M Bank, SORWATHE, Marriott Hotel and Bank of Kigali.
Recognized public institutions and private companies include the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM), the National Industrial Research Development Agency (NIRDA), the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), the Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA), Dubai Port World Kigali, Garda World Sanlam General Insurance Company, Sina Gerard-Entreprise Urwibutso, Inkomoko Entrepreneur Development and BRITAM Insurance.
These companies and institutions have voluntarily enrolled into the programme and gone through gender self-assessments, developed action plans and started implementing them to address identified gender gaps.
“As an Accountability organ, we strongly believe that no sustainable development can be achieved without participation of both men and women especially in the workplace. Giving equal opportunities to both not only contributes to improving their lives as employees but also increases organizational productivity,” says the Chief Gender Monitor, Rose Rwabuhihi.
The Golden Gender Equality Seal is valid for only three years after which they will go under an advanced evaluation to assess their progress.
These companies were among the first to join the programme. After three years, they were evaluated against gender equality seal standards to assess their progress in honouring their commitments. The evaluation revealed that they have achieved key milestones in promoting gender responsive work environment.
Establishment of breastfeeding rooms at workplace, increasing the number of females in male dominated jobs, increasing the number of females in decision-making positions as a Key Performance Indicator, establishment of a child care facility, putting in place sexual harassment policies, reducing gender pay gaps are among the key achievements they registered in three years of implementation of their gender plans and strategies.
The Resident Representative of UNDP in Rwanda commends efforts accomplished by the companies in promoting gender equality in their businesses, saying that this should serve as a role model to others
“The odds are still stacked against women in the workplace. The public institutions and private companies we are celebrating today are breaking those barriers. It is not just the right thing to do: it will work out for corporate bottom line and society at large,” noted Mr. Maxwell Gomera, the Resident Representative of UNDP in Rwanda. He added: “This is only the beginning. We need a cultural revolution, right from the education systems, through to flexible working options, sharing caring responsibilities in the home and removing occupational segregation.’
While the private sector currently employs 94% of the labor force in Rwanda as per official statistics, the number of women is still low, especially in technical fields which normally pay more wages.
For instance, in mining women participation stands at 9 %, transport and storage at 3% and at 17 % in construction. Also, Women occupy only 32% of decision-making positions in the private sector and only 33% of business enterprises are owned by women, most of whom own micro and small business enterprises. The Gender Equality Seal Programme was initiate to bridge those gaps and increase business growth.
“The GES has steered business and economic growth and increased organizational performance. It has also helped to enhance the ability of companies to attract more talent and retain best employees. I take this opportunity to encourage companies that have not yet joined the programme to do so. The sustainable future of our businesses is not possible without gender equality,” said Robert Bafakulera, the Chairperson of Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation.
This recognition and certification ceremony was organised in the framework of the celebrating the International Women’s Day, which observed yearly on 8th Mach.
“In this world of uncertainty and Covid 19 recovery and resilience processes, the role of the private sector in boosting Rwanda’s economy is paramount. As part of this vital work, UN Women appreciates not only the private sector companies’ commitments to gender equality and Women’s empowerment but also concrete actions taken in this endeavour by the companies that we are here to recognise today and award for their efforts in putting the commitments into actions. We encourage many more companies to join this transformative initiative, challenge the status quo and boost an inclusive socioeconomic development of the country,” says Emma Carine Uwantege, Acting Country Representative of UN WOMEN in Rwanda. She further adds that “One UN through the complementarity and experience of our two agencies (UNDP and UN Women) will continue to be leveraged to provide a solid framework and concrete tools to support private sector companies’ gender equality agenda.”
This is the certification of first cohort of nine private companies and the recognition of the third cohort of private companies and public institutions for their progress and commitment in bridging the gender equality gaps across their business and area of work. Since the inception of this innovative programme, 24 private companies and 6 public institutions have joined the initiative.