The power of opportunity 1

Equality most often relates to access to status, rights, resources and opportunity. It’s a lofty goal to see equality in place irrespective of gender, race, religion, capacities or class. And for many experiencing exclusion, we wonder where to start.

After the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the country awoke to find more than 3 million of its 7 million citizens dead, internally displaced or had left the country. With women making up 80% of the surviving population. Rebuilding the nation was a seemingly impossible task.

But out of tragedy, necessity, and pragmatism, women stepped in to fill the leadership void. Aided by women’s civil society groups, lawmakers introduced some of the most women-friendly policies in the world. And then in 2003, the constitution was changed requiring that women make up 30% of all elected positions.

What would be the outcome?

Today, Rwandan women fill more than 64% of the elected parliament – the highest in the world – 50% of the cabinet and 4 of the 7 supreme court seats. Women have become community leaders, businesswomen and family advocates.

It is a remarkable story and reminds me of the power of opportunity in changing the equality landscape.

About Kelley

Kelley is a speaker, author, overseas aid worker and perpetual student. She is passionate about women and gender issues, both in the local and international context, which underpins her enthusiasm for kinwomen and its contribution to women ‘living their finest life’. In 2014 Kelley completed a Masters in International and Community Development before establishing The Foxglove Project. Foxglove is a registered charity focused on supporting international development projects that are sustainable and driven by indigenous leadership. Kelley’s paid work requires her to travel extensively to evaluate and support projects supported by Australian funds. This experience and networking enables Foxglove to partner with outstanding overseas agencies delivering real opportunities for the poor and vulnerable to lead independent self-determined lives. Kelley combines these passions with a love of family and faith. Across more than 30 years of marriage, Kelley and her husband have worked through many of the challenges of building a relationship while raising three sons. Their boys have now finished high school changing the dynamics of family life and relationships. One of her great joys is sharing parenting lessons and learning from good and bad (sometimes disastrous) experiences. She uses humour and common sense to talk about the everyday challenges facing parents in today’s context.

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