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Can Rwanda Be a Model of Success for the East African Community?


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Can Rwanda Be a Model of Success for the East African Community?

By Gabriel McIntosh

Women’s Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa Are Focus of ABA Conference in Rwanda


WASHINGTON, D.C., March 12, 2012 — The advancement of women’s rights in Africa, and the obstacles and opportunities women face there will be the focus of the American Bar Association Section of International Law when it meets at the Kigali Serena Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 14.

“Rwanda has risen above its violent past to become a leader in the East African Community,” said Michael Burke, chair, ABA Section of International Law. “The country’s progress in the promotion of women’s rights and access to justice as well the advancement of women in the legal profession has proven Rwanda’s commitment to the rule of law.”

Leading women’s rights experts will analyze the current state of women’s rights on the continent in comparison with Rwanda’s progressive steps to promote women’s rights.  The program will explore how continued monitoring and evaluation can contribute to the empowerment of women in Africa.

Session topics will include recent successes and challenges in women’s health issues, business and economic development, and access to justice.  This program will conclude the Section of International Law International Legal Exchange program that took place in Dar es Salaam and Arusha, Tanzania, and Kigali, Rwanda.

The following programs are highlights of the meeting and feature experts from key posts within the Rwandan government and judiciary, educational institutions and legal community.

Session highlights include:

What are the Greatest Challenges Facing Women’s Rights in the East African Community Today, and How to Continue to Move Forward? (9 – 10:30 a.m.)

  • Dr. Agnes Bingwaho, Minister of Health
  • Toni Habinshuti, Partners in Health
  • Elisa Slattery, Center for Reproductive Rights
  • Josephine Uwamariya, ActionAid Rwanda
  • Kayitesi Usta, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Rwanda

International Conventions and Their Enforcement – Can the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, ICESCR, ICCPR, CRC and CEDAW Play a Role in the Advancement of Women’s Rights in Africa? (10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.)

  • Hon. Dora Byamukama, Representative from Uganda to the East African Legislative Assembly
  • Hon. Sylvie Zaïnabo Kayitesi, Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Rwanda and Vice Chair, African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights
  • Donnah Kamanshazi, UNIFEM
  • Hon. Emily Kayitesi, Justice of the Supreme Court and member of the EAC Court of Justice (invited);
  • Hon. Aloisea Inyumba, Minister for Gender & Family Promotion (invited)

Prioritization and Advancement of Women’s Rights – Can Rwanda be a Model of Success for the East African Community? (2 – 3 p.m.)

  • Professor Gertrude Fester, Deputy Director for the Center for Gender and Development Studies, Kigali Institute of Education;
  • Lisa Martilotta, Executive Director, Akilah Institute for Women;
  • S. Connie Bwiza, Minister of Parliament;
  • Clare Akamanzi, Chief Operating Officer, Rwanda Development Board
  • Zimulinda Ingabire, Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (invited)
  • Christine E. Silverberg, Wolch de Wit Silverberg & Watts, Calgary, Canada

Providing Greater Access to Legal Institutions and Bettering Enforcement (3:45 – 5:15 p.m.)

  • Jean Chryostome, Hagaruka
  • Hélène Despierres, Legal Aid Coordinator, Avocats Sans Frontières
  • Didas Kayihura, Fountain Law Chambers and former NUR Law School Dean
  • Florence Mukamugema, Administrative Law Professor, National University of Rwanda
  • Naome Umuhoza, Legal Aid Clinic Professor, National University of Rwanda
  • Andrews Kananga, Coordinator/Head of Secretariat, Legal Aid Forum, Kigali

There is no charge for media covering this event. For media credentialing and conference materials, or to interview speakers, please contact Christina Heid at +250 786 478028, or Betsy Adeboyejo at 202-661-1039,

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the world’s largest voluntary professional membership organization.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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