Connie Bwiza Sekamana and Edit Schlaffer on the Panel, The Rounder Girls brought the Spirit

Connie B. Sekamana was our guest on the International Women´s Day 2004 at our event "Frauen machen Frieden - Peace is a Gender Issue!"

Connie Bwiza Sekamana joining the audience ©Stephy Ewers

The Rounder Girls in action  ©Stephy Ewers

Frauen machen Frieden - Peace is a Gender Issue!

09. March 2004

The Rwandan politician Connie Bwiza Sekamana was a guest of Women without Borders at their International Women's Day Event "Frauen machen Frieden - Peace is a Gender Issue" in the BAWAG Event-Center Hochholzerhof in Vienna.

Rwanda is a very special country which is in the spotlight of the international public this year as a result of the memorial services for the genocide in 1994. "Never again" is the slogan of the young Rwandans, today they work side by side, Hutu and Tutsi, actors and victims. They created new institutions and commissions for the reconciliation and overcoming of the trauma, the deeply rooted feelings of hate, resentment and resignation. Women play a very special role in this process. This alone would not be very surprising, for cleaning up the pieces after destruction is the classic role of women. However, in Rwanda women made history and did not only accomplish a huge leap in their country, but also created a unique situation world-wide: they account for half the parliament. They are a central part of reconstruction; their presence will be the proof for the success of this young democracy. Over and over again, Connie Bwiza Sekamana emphasized that this inspiring and fair representation of women is an important indicator for democracy and evidence for a functioning civil society. How much of a lasting and influential role will be taken on by women is yet to be decided and is a great challenge for the community of states and international women's public. "We Did Nothing"is the resume of the peacekeeper Linda Polman, who, after numerous missions, among others also in Rwanda, documented the omissions of the International Community.
A study conducted by the UN Division for the Advancement of Women (UNDAW) found that a critical number of 30 to 35% of women must be represented in order to guarantee that their rights and priorities are observed and ensured. World-wide, this percentage rate is below 15%. As conferences and task forces are held in developed countries, papers are written under the key word "engendering politics," resolutions are adopted that often disappear, the women of Rwanda have taken on a great challenge: they are determined to participate in shaping their country, not to leave their society to potential warriors and rebels.
Connie Bwiza Sekamana is a representative of this new generation of dedicated women. In an interview with Martina Handler and Elisabeth Kasbauer/Women without Borders, Connie Sekamana described the "official way" of the women of her country.

Shortly after the visit of Connie Bwiza Sekamana, the US-historian and Rwanda connoisseur Alison des Forges came to Vienna upon an invitation from the Karl Renner Institute to accept the Bruno Kreisky Award for the Political Book 2003 for her lifetime achievement: the documentation of the genocide in Rwanda. In an interview with Edit Schlaffer/Women without Borders, she paints a carefully optimistic, but all in all critical picture of the new Rwanda, where the hopeful slogan "Women hold up half the sky" has received real meaning. We will hopefully not only be sympathetic on-lookers of this process. Women without Borders will try to support the women of Rwanda in their brave undertaking.


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