7 March 2017 | Kigali, RWANDA – The Kigali Convention Center was the venue as the Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR), Minister of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF), Representative of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Country Director of UN Women launched the official report of the comprehensive inter-agency gender assessment conducted with all concerned stakeholders in 2015-2016 in all refugee camps in Rwanda. The purpose of the event was to enable a multi-stakeholder dialogue on the findings and recommendations of the report, and to launch the report to the public.
MIDIMAR and UNHCR oversee the refugee response in Rwanda including managing six refugee camps hosting some 125,000 refugees and also supporting urban refugees who number some 32,000. UNHCR also supports refugees in all sectors, including protection, documentation and basic assistance such as health, shelter, water, sanitation and education, with complementary support provided by a range of UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Following an inter-agency gender assessment of Mahama Refugee Camp conducted by UN Women in partnership with the MIDIMAR and UNHCR in September 2015, the Hon. Minister of MIDIMAR recommended that a comprehensive gender assessment be carried out in the five other camps hosting Congolese refugees in Rwanda. Pursuant to this recommendation, UNHCR, in partnership with MIDIMAR and UN Women, convened a Refugee Interagency Technical Working Group on Gender to steer the process for the broad-base inter-agency gender assessment. The Working Group is composed of a range of Government, UN, local and international NGOs and civil society (see below).
Some 1,989 (56% females and 44% males) participated in surveys on refugees’ perceptions on gender issues in different sectors. The parameters chosen for the survey are based on 95% accuracy level and a margin of error defined at 5%. The assessment also included key informant interviews with humanitarian partners and 120 Focus Group Discussions with refugee women, men, boys and girls of different age groups living in the 6 refugee camps. The topics covered ranged from camp management and environment to child protection and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), education, health, cash assistance, food, self-reliance, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
The assessment found good and promising practices in all six camps. For example, Kiziba – the oldest camp in Rwanda – and Mahama – the latest refugee camp, which hosts over 53,000 refugees from Burundi – had designed WASH services which address gender equality concerns and also which meet or exceed humanitarian standards. Mugombwa and Mahama have latrines and showers separately designated for female and male refugees and lighting around the WASH facilities. In line with the Ministry of Education standards, Nyabiheke had a fully equipped girls’ safe room in school to meet the menstrual hygiene needs of school-going girls. Kiziba had gender parity between refugee boys and girls in the national examinations of December 2015. In the health sector, actors succeeded in maintaining a zero rate maternal mortality rate in all camp health facilities. There were no deaths of girls and women due to pregnancy related complications in the health facilities located in the camps between January and December 2016. The Isange One Stop Centres (IOSCs) were found to offer much needed support to survivors of SGBV.
Generally, gender gaps were found in all sectors, signalling that gender inequalities skewed against girls and women persist in all sectors in all six refugee camps. The assessment found that there was low awareness among female and male refugees alike, but mostly among refugee men, on why it is important to embrace perceptions, norms and practices which respect of the dignity and rights of refugee girls and women. Gender-based harmful coping mechanisms such as girls and women resorting to begging, conditional pregnancy and other types of high-risk sexual behavior were identified. Recommendations validated in today’s event include a range of actions which are summarized in the report but which include elimination of barriers that hinder female participation in camp leadership structures, training for women, girls, men and boys on budgeting skills, savings, and use of cooperative and banking services and initiation of research and proactive response measures in different areas.
Written by Eugene Sibomana
UNHCR Communications/Public Information Asssociate
For inquiries contact SIBOMANAE@unhcr.org