Rwanda, Namibia, and Burundi are respectively ranked fifth, twelfth, and fourteenth on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2016. All have ratified their equivalent of an Equal Rights Amendment into their respective constitution equivalents, unlike the United States, which has not and ranks 45th. In these sub-Saharan countries, especially Rwanda, ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment has provided a legal framework and support to lessen the gender gaps. The legal framework of Rwanda and its social and cultural norms, which at times impede the enforcement of gender equal laws, lay a lesson for the U.S., should gender equality become a legislative priority.
After the 1994 Rwandan genocide ended, 70 percent of the country was female, leaving the job of rebuilding the country’s now-destroyed social, economic, and political institutions in the hands of women—a complete shift, especially for the previously traditional patriarchal society. Given the role of women in the country’s reconstruction period, the Rwandan government established gender equality as a legal framework with the 2003 adoption of Article 9 in the Rwandan Constitution, which guarantees equal gender rights and requires women to be granted “at least thirty percent (30%) of posts in decision-making organs.”
“A legal guarantee of equal rights ensured that the government allocates resources to ensure that gender promotion is not just in theory but also in practice. Women and men in Rwanda have equal rights on all matters,” said Olive Uwamariya, Rwandan gender activist with Care International. Following the adoption of Article 9, Rwanda became the first country in the world with a female majority

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