22 years ago, Consolate Mukampabuka wouldn’t be allowed by banks to withdraw more than Rwf3,000 from her own account without the presence of her husband because, she says, “no one trusted women to think well or put resources to good use.” Today, such a testimony sounds like a badly-conceived fiction, thanks to the Liberation and its transformation of the socio-economic fabric of the Rwandan society.
When 57-year-old Consolate Mukampabuka joins other Rwandans today in marking the Liberation Day, it won’t be mere reflection on history.
She won’t be only celebrating the historic time when the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi) through its military wing, the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) stopped the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.
She will also be celebrating the fruits from good governance that was ushered into the country following the liberation.
Mukampabuka’s most enjoyable fruit from the liberation campaign at the moment is women empowerment that was spearheaded by the post-Genocide government to-date.
Twenty-two years ago, Mukampabuka wouldn’t be allowed by banks to withdraw more than Rwf3,000 from her own account without the presence of her husband because, she says, “no one trusted women to think well or put resources to good use.”
Today, she can withdraw millions of francs from her shared family account without the bank tellers contacting her husband given women’s emancipation.
“I would need the whole day to talk about what we have achieved in the last 22 years. Our leadership has given dignity to women. Our husbands and brothers no longer have to decide alone; we have to decide together,” Mukampabuka says, taking a short break from her busy work in a family supermarket in Kigali’s budding suburb of Remera to tell her story.
“Husbands used to sell off family property while drinking in the bar without asking for the views of their wives but today they can’t since we have equal rights on family property,” she adds.
Today, July 4, 2016, there is a sense of celebration in the country and among Rwandan Diaspora for the good things that Rwandans have achieved in many areas of their lives since the end of the liberation war 22 years ago.
Ever since the end of the Liberation War on July 4, 1994, the country has achieved a lot in many areas and people can now look back and recall how things have changed for the better with a sense of optimism for the future.
Among other areas of improvement include stable security for residents as the rule of law was established and maintained in the country, economic development as poverty levels have been significantly dropping, unity and reconciliation among Rwandans, and exemplary policies for women empowerment.
“The most important thing that was achieved, which is very critical for the country’s life and wellbeing of Rwandans, has been unity and reconciliation. Rwandans have gotten together and have been working for their own development,” said Senator Jean-Nepomuscène Sindikubwabo, chairperson of the senatorial Standing Committee on Political Affairs.
Once they made up their mind that unity was crucial, the lawmaker says, Rwandans were able to work together and help each other and the result has been a fast and inclusive economic development.
He said that in the last 22 years, there has been promotion of inclusive development such as an education system that includes every child regardless of their family’s financial standing, policies to help the most vulnerable of the society such as Girinka (One-Cow-per-Poor-Family) and VUP (Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme), and a universal access to healthcare insurance, among other social protection schemes.
“There are policies to ensure that we are not leaving anyone behind as we develop. This helps us to ensure that we don’t go back to exclusion policies that destroyed our country in the past,” he said.
Despite the terrible aftermath from the genocide, Rwanda has successfully recovered over the last two decades, keeping annual average growth above 7 per cent since the year 2000 with major investments going into agriculture, construction, mining, information and communication technology (ICT), tourism, as well as banking and insurance.
For Senator Tito Rutaremara, a senior cadre of the RPF, though liberation is an ideal and is indeed on-going, there are crucial steps that have been made since the end of the genocide such as ensuring stability in the country and building the country’s economy.
“In the case of Rwanda, we had the step of removing a dictatorship, reconstructing the country, laying the foundation, and now we are building the country slowly by slowly,” he says.
As the liberation struggle continues, the senator says, Rwandans still have a lot more to achieve such as productive employment for every person in the country, money in their pockets, more hospitals and schools nearby, and enough food on their tables.
Meanwhile, the country is ranked globally as one of the safest places to live in, one of the best places for women to live, and indeed one of the easiest places to do business.
Mukampabuka can relate well with all of these reports as she has been a witness to all the three indicators.
“Today, I am able to withdraw Rwf1 million from a bank and walk with it in my purse knowing that gangsters won’t attack me because they would be severely punished by watchful local officials,” she said.
When it comes to doing business, she works hard knowing that she has the right to her property as the present law does not allow a husband unilateral decision on family wealth.
“You will rarely see men in this country who have more than one wife these days because they know it’s illegal. It means that as a woman you work hard knowing that you will own the property with your husband and children. These things are fruits of the Liberation and good governance,” she says.
The Government has designated “together we prosper” as the theme for the 22nd commemoration of the Liberation Day, an occasion that has also been branded locally as ‘Kwibohora22’ or Liberation22.