RWANDAN WOMEN AND THE 1994 GENOCIDE: THE EFFECT ON THEIR SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ROLES
Doan, Lisa A.
RWANDAN WOMEN AND THE 1994 GENOCIDE:THE EFFECT ON THEIR SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ROLESLisa A. Doan, B.A.Mentor: Joseph P. Smaldone, Ph.D.ABSTRACTDuring 100 days in the spring and summer of 1994 in Rwanda a planned genocide orchestrated by extreme members of the Hutu ethnic group, the ruling faction of the government took the lives of 800,000 to 1,000,000 moderate Hutus and Tutsis. The majority of the victims of the genocide were male. This created an imbalance of the sexes in Rwanda, resulting in women rising to 70% of the total Rwandan population. This thesis explores the effect of the genocide on Rwandan women's social and political roles. It looks at the social and political roles of Rwandan women before, during, and after the genocide and compares and contrasts these relative roles, drawing conclusions as to how the genocide changed the roles of Rwandan women.The methodology used was to examine available literature written about the 1994 genocide and its aftermath, and its effects on women, and to compare and contrast the social and political roles of women in the pre and post-genocidal periods. The thesis is divided into chapters covering the pre-genocidal roles of women, their roles during the genocide, and finally, their social and political roles since the genocide.Women in pre-genocidal Rwanda held limited social and political roles in the traditional patriarchal society, and were mostly poor, poorly educated and worked in subsistence agriculture. During the genocide Rwandan women were primarily the innocent victims, as hundreds of thousands of women and children were raped, murdered, and lost family members. The decimation of the male population expanded women's social and political roles to include heads of households and organizations, as well as new educational and job opportunities. The new 2003 constitution included a 30% quota for women's parliamentary representation and new gender-equality legislation granted women expanded rights. Despite the new laws, however, women still suffer the effects of severe poverty, poor access to education and domestic violence. The genocide devastated women physically and emotionally, but also expanded and created new social and political roles in its aftermath.
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