Monday, March 8, 2010

International Women's Day

We marked international women’s day by attending a ceremony in Nyanza’s stadium. We arrived at the designated time of 9am. One school group was there, and by 9:30 we were out of the stands and dancing with them in the field to the music of their voices as the stadium filled up. Eventually loudspeakers and a generator appeared and at maybe 10:15 or 10:30 the performances and speeches began. They were excellent. Several dance troops of children and adolescents performed, giving us our first look at Rwandan traditional dance.

An LCF later translated the cell representative’s speech – she said that for many years after she became a village and then cell representative, her husband beat her and her kids on international women’s day to prevent her from attending events such as this. Eventually she got a divorce from the government and moved back to her family, and she’s successfully putting her kids through school on her own.

The problem of domestic violence is daunting in Rwanda, and divorces are difficult to obtain. This women’s problem is still common, despite Rwanda’s provisions for gender equality and international renown as the country with the highest percentage of women in parliament. Sadly, Rwandan women share the plight of domestic violence with women around the world and in the United States.

In the evening, I was in a small group that organized the trainees in a discussion about women’s roles, achievements and challenges around the world. Our Rwandan dance lesson that followed soon transformed into a dance party.

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