UNOAU Speaks to Rwandan Ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti
The Ambassador of Rwanda, Mrs Hope Tumukunde Gasatura sat with UNOAU for an interview. Ambassador Gasatura is one of the four women ambassadors who are members of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC). This interview sought to highlight the role of women in Africa's peace and security through their engagements in high level decision making platforms such as the AUPSC. Speaking about her tenure as the monthly chair of the AUPSC earlier this year in February, Ambassador Gasatura recalled how important it had been to table issues that affect children and women in Africa. Along with the other female ambassadors involved in the AUPSC, including the ambassador of Botswana, Kenya and Zambia, Ambassador Gatsatura noted that more needs to be done to increase the number of women sitting in the AUPSC.
Read the full interview below:
As the AUPSC Chair of the month of February 2017, during which you organized five sessions, (including on the role of women in protecting lives in challenging security environments in Africa) where are we with the implementation of some of the recommendations made in the AUPSC session, on the enforcement of the Women Peace and Security agenda in Africa and also as outlined by the UNSC Resolution 1325?
One of the topics discussed when Rwanda chaired AUPSC, was the free movement of people and goods in Africa and how to address its challenges related to peace and security. One concrete action that Rwanda has taken is to encourage free movement of people across its border by opening boarders. Fore example one of the busiest border in Africa is the one between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Citizens from either country cross the border daily as the country instituted a security clearance system that is efficient and saves time. The country recognizes the benefits that come with cross boarder trade among local communities along either side of the borders and, to date, there haven’t been any concerns related to security.
Benin is the latest country in Africa to have announced visa on arrival, to African citizens, following President Patrice Talon’s official visit to Rwanda this year. On the second part of the question, there are four female ambassadors in the AUPSC. What we all agreed as a principle was that each time one of us would chair the AUPSC, two key aspects would be given greater attention. These are issues related to children and women. When I chaired the AUPSC on behalf of Rwanda in February 2017, In addition to the aspects of women and children, we discussed also how to address impediments of free movement in Africa topic so that the AUPS can contribute to the principle of continental integration. By sharing Rwanda’s example, the aim was to advocate for the removal of mobility barriers in Africa through the AUPSC. Peacekeeping missions were also another topic greatly focused on.
How does Rwanda ensures promotion of women in leadership position in the country and outside the country?
For Rwanda, the inclusion of women is a constitutional right. This is apparent in elective positions within the Government but also applies to special appointments. For example, each district and the City of Kigali has three elected positions – the constitution requires for at least 30% of such leadership to be taken up by female candidates. Every law in Rwanda is gendered – this has become a culture. President Kagame speaks about gender inclusion at all for a and he has been the architect of this system in Rwanda, which is a matter of principle. He always says that with over half of the Rwanda population being women, it would be not logical and unfair not to promote inclusion and participation of women. In the same vein, the President has appointed a number of female ambassadors. For Rwanda, engaging both women and men equally is something that is taken very seriously.
What is the role of Rwanda in the President Kagame’s report on the AU Reform? Why do you think that this Reform is important to the AU?
As the Reform report highlights, the AU reform is important so as to enable the Union be able to focus on key priority areas that are continental in nature, improve on its efficiency and most importantly member states to be able to finance the Union themselves.
The success of, and the implementation of the African Union Reform will heavily depend on African Member States’ willingness and commitment to take action which is so far encouraging.
As for Rwanda, we have taken steps towards contributing towards AU Reform implementation. Earlier in the year 2017, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, the High Representative for the AU Peace Fund demonstrated that Africa has the capacity to realize the reforms. Accordingly, Rwanda is investing in required systems and has also made all the arrangements to begin the implemented of the 0.2% levy on all import. Rwanda is also up to date its contribution to the African Peace Fund as part of the proposed Member States’ financial contributions.