Private sector companies meet to share experience on mechanisms for accelerating gender accountability

Kigali, October 7 , 2020 - Representatives of private sector companies, government institutions and development partners met on Tuesday in a peer learning workshop to share experience and discuss mechanisms for accelerating gender equality and accountability in the private sector.

The workshop was organized within the framework of the project dubbed "Promoting gender accountability in the private sector through the gender equality seal certification project" that is being implemented by the Gender Monitoring Office in partnership with the Private Sector Federation (PSF), United Nations Development Project (UNDP) and the United Nations entity for promotion of gender equality and women empowerment (UN women).

The project helps companies to promote gender equality and accountability systems at the workplace through eliminating gender based pay gaps, increasing women's roles in decision making, enhancing work-life balance, enhancing women's/men's access to non-traditional jobs, eradicating sexual harassment and promoting the use of inclusive and non-sexist communication.

According to Gender Monitoring Office, promotion of gender equality is a collective responsibility as it is one of the six fundamental principles of the constitution of the Republic of Rwanda. "Considering the role of the private sector as an engine for Rwanda's development journey, gender equality has to be at the center of development agenda, if Rwanda is to reach its development aspirations including becoming a high-income country by 2050 and an upper middle-income country by 2035" said the Chief Gender Monitor Rose Rwabuhihi.

The Private Sector Federation and Gender Monitoring Office with support from development partners started a journey of building gender accountability systems in the private sector two years ago. "We are now seeing private sector companies taking good steps. The fact that we have such a platform where companies discuss about gender equality matters is in itself a good and commendable milestone" the Chief Gender Monitor added.

The private sector currently employs 94% of the Rwanda's labor force. Mr Theoneste Ntagengerwa, the spokesperson for the Private Sector Federation (PSF) says that given the role of the private sector to strengthen Rwanda's economy through a private sector-led development, effective participation of men and women in the sector will increase the performance of the sector by insuring everyone's contribution for increased productivity and inclusive economic growth. "We are happy that great steps are already being made by the private sector in promoting gender equality thanks to the partnership that was forged between the private sector, government and partners" he added.

According to NISR Labor force survey of May 2020, male labor force participation rate stands at 63.4% and 47% for females. The same survey indicates that female unemployment rate is at 25% higher than the male rate which is at 19.6 %.

Female workforce participation in technical sectors which are most likely to be paying more is disproportionately low compared to male workforce participation in these sectors. For example, in mining and quarrying, female participation is at 11 % compared to 89% males; in transport 9% compared to 91% males; in the Energy sector 5% compared to 95% males and in construction 19% compared to 81% males.
The private sector federation says that such peer learning sessions and meetings with business community are therefore organized as platforms for information and experience sharing between companies on how to address the prevailing gender gaps in the private sector.

As indicated by company representatives, promotion of gender equality in the private sector increases productivity and profitability through attracting diversified talents and innovation, reducing staff absenteeism and turnover, as well as promoting good reputation and company positive image.

From the roll out of the gender equality seal framework in Rwanda, in 2017, the project registered different achievements including bringing on board more than 20 Private sector companies and four public institutions to be part of the Gender Equality Seal certification framework; and staff capacities on gender equality analysis and mainstreaming were enhanced through technical assistance, training and other learning platforms to promote a gender responsive work environment in their respective companies and institutions.

In addition, Gender Equality Committees were established in various private sector institutions and public institutions in order to drive and effectively implement initiatives for promoting gender equality in their companies and institutions.

A Gender Mainstreaming Strategy for the Private sector was also developed and is being implemented serving as a key guide for all steps that aim at promoting gender equality and accountability in the private sector.