Talking about “sectoral” or perhaps better put as the Public, Private and Third sectors of most economies, the former has always been the weakest link — while the latter two (private and third sector) have always been at the forefront of economic development and “governance reporting”.
Rather interestingly, or perhaps even surprisingly, the private sector seems to be lagging the public sector — the broader governmental efforts — in tackling the Gender Gap in the workplace. Citing the case of one of the most reported — and for very good reasons — countries in Africa, i.e., Rwanda, this article is a reflective viewpoint on what needs to be reined in with utmost urgency.
Drawing from my affiliation and role as co-ordinator of the Centre for Economic Governance and Leadership (CEGL) at the University of Kigali, the private sector needs to step up their game as the enabling environment is firmly in place in the country.
This research note was prompted by a recent report which revealed the “Gender Gap Widening in Rwanda’s Largest Employment Sector,” i.e., the private sector — which, in my humble opinion, calls for an urgent re-alignment from a governance perspective.
As the report highlighted, the World Economic Forum 2022 Global Gender Gap Report, ranked Rwanda first in closing the gender gap in Africa and number six world-wide (in line with improving gender balance, and creating equal development opportunities for both men and women). However, various monitoring findings by Gender Monitoring Office and other stakeholders indicate that the private sector still lags behind in gender equality.
Since my appointment as Coordinator of CEGL in February 2022, I have continued my research — with impact, on the role and place of women in the economic development of Africa. Indeed, I not long sought to summarise my works in an article entitled “Celebrating the Commonwealth Women’s Forum 2022.”
In June 2022, and coinciding with the Commonwealth Women’s Forum held in Kigali, Rwanda, I was also invited to participate in an event themed “promoting gender accountability in the private sector” jointly organised by The Rwanda Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs (RCWE), an umbrella organization established in 2005 under the auspices of the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF).
More recently, I was privileged to mentor a woman graduate candidate for the Master of Science in Project Management Programme to present a research paper at the International Stream of the University of Fort Hare — Research Week of Excellence in November 2022. Her presentation was based on her Master’s Dissertation, under my humble supervision. The student highlighted some of the challenges facing construction projects in Rwanda, which included economic governance and leadership concerns.
Professor Madichie speaking at the RCWE meeting organized by the Gender Monitoring Office (GMO) in collaboration with the Private Sector Federation, with support of the UNDP. June 2022.
Why it matters for theory and practice
I am currently developing some interesting narrative from the Rwandan financial services sector. Ultimately it seems that my research is beginning to bear fruit with the recent appointments of women into private sector CEO roles in the country. Here’s a shortlist of three female CEOs – Beata Uwamaliza Habyarimana (BK Group, since August 2022), Carine Umutoni (Ecobank Rwanda Plc, since November 2022), and now Patience Mutesi (BPR Bank Rwanda, from 1 February 2023).
As a qualitative researcher, and adherent of the inductive approach, these case illustrations will afford the impetus to realign, rebalance and redress (3Rs), the widening gender imbalance in the workplace from the purview of the public vis-à-vis private sector initiatives in Rwanda.
I am also currently developing contents for a master’s degree public policy module on “Economic Governance and Management,” at the School of Graduate Studies, University of Kigali. I am drawing upon the notion that economic governance encompasses two broad areas — macroeconomic management (including aggregate fiscal management) and microeconomic management (relating to the policies that determine the private-sector operating environment and contract enforcement processes etc.).
All of these are pitched against the backdrop of Rwanda’s National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) – a medium-term national strategy (2017–2024) in Rwanda’s 7-Year Government Programme capturing the first four years of Vision 2050 and domesticated for the SDGs as well as other continental and regional commitments. The NST1 is built on 3 interlocking pillars — economic transformation; social transformation; and transformational governance (ESG for short).