On March 11th, 2022, the Gender Monitoring Office (GMO), the Private Sector Federation (PSF), UNDP and UN WOMEN certified nine private companies and recognized four public institutions and six private companies for their outstanding efforts to promote gender accountability.

The move is in line with a joint programme “Gender Equality Seal Programme” initiated in 2017 with the aim to support private sector companies to promote gender equality and accountability through their businesses.  It was initiated by GMO with the support of UNDP Rwanda and in collaboration with UN WOMEN.

“As an Accountability organ, we strongly believe that no sustainable development can be achieved without participation of both men and women especially in the workplace. Giving equal opportunities to both not only contributes to improving their lives as employees but also increases organizational productivity,” says the Chief Gender Monitor, Rose Rwabuhihi.

Nine private companies were awarded with a Golden Gender Equality Seal while one received a silver for having achieved a higher progress in promoting gender equality and accountability in their businesses and workplace. Those include MTN Rwanda, Wolfram Mining and Processing Ltd, Development Bank of Rwanda, ECOBANK, Safari Centre, I&M Bank, SORWATHE, Marriott Hotel and Bank of Kigali. 

Recognized public institutions and private companies include the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM), the National Industrial Research Development Agency (NIRDA), the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), the Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA), Dubai Port World Kigali, Garda World Sanlam General Insurance Company, Sina Gerard-Entreprise Urwibutso, Inkomoko Entrepreneur Development and BRITAM Insurance.

As part of UNDP global strategy to bridge gender gap, the Regional Bureau for Africa is leading the implementation of the Seal in the Private Sector in Africa in over 80 private sector companies in Rwanda, Uganda, the Gambia, soon in South Africa and in Ethiopia, among others.

Rwanda was the first country in Africa to implement this innovative initiative. It is also the first country to certify private companies that have promoted gender equality and accountability.

Speaking at the event, the UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa commended Rwanda’s efforts in promoting gender accountability particularly under Gender Equality Seal Programme.

“As a result of this initiative, companies are witnessing and reporting increase in production and productivity, as women and men feel more equal. Participating companies have also demonstrated ownership of the initiative, which is a strong signal of the sustainability of this initiative,” noted Ahunna. She added “The seal certification is not the end of the story. The gender Equality Seal Initiative is a journey of continuous performance and transformation. I welcome other companies and public institutions that have advanced through stages towards certification and that are looking forward to such an important milestone.”

The implementation of the Gender Equality Seal Certification Programme in Rwanda has led to significant achievements such as changes in internal policies for a more gender friendly work environment, integration of a gender lens in the way of doing business, specific actions to unlock the power of choice for women, internal promotion for women and increased number of women in the company managerial positions, diversification of the workforce and increased participation of women in male dominated jobs, implementation of women’s wellness centres including for nursing mothers that can now breastfeed their babies, women enjoying equal pay for similar services and creation of a gender friendly environment where women are empowered, supported, and encouraged to pursue their fullest capabilities.

In his opening remarks at the gender equality seal dinner, the UN Resident Coordinator in Rwanda, Fodé Ndiaye emphasizes that gender is essential in all sectors for our economic growth, and appreciates the private sector and public institutions for taking the responsibility.

The Rwanda’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Béata Habyarimana commended the awarded companies and called the rest to consider gender equality as a business rationale.

“From these nominees, we have seen that gender equality is not only a policy, but a must if you want to deliver more in business as well. So, more private companies should embrace the culture not as a favor, but because it is among women’s rights,” she said.

The Chairperson of Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation, Mr. Robert Bafakulera, recognised the importance of this initiative that has led tremendous achievements that include the development the of second generation of the gender mainstreaming strategy for the private sector (2020 – 2024).

This is the certification of first cohort of nine private companies and the recognition of the third cohort of private companies and public institutions for their progress and commitment in bridging the gender equality gaps across their business and area of work. Since the inception of this innovative programme, 24 private companies and 6 public institutions have joined the initiative. 

The Golden Gender Equality Seal is valid for only three years after which they will go under an advanced evaluation to assess their progress.