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Achieving gender parity is a joint effort between men and women and requires bold steps, not an incremental approach, President Paul Kagame has said.

The President was, yesterday, speaking on a panel titled, “What Would You Do to Make the World Better for Women and Girls? A Conversation and Call to Action,” at the ongoing Milken Institute’s Global Conference at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, US.

Moderated by the director of USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism, Willow Bay, the high-level panel focused interventions on the idea that gender parity is achievable.

Panelists singled out Rwanda as a star performer in gender party which President Kagame attributed to drawing lessons from Rwanda’s past.

“Our history has taught us to value everybody. We look at all Rwandans as equal. Both men and women have suffered given our tragic history but they have also participated together to make sure that we rebuild a shattered country,” Kagame said.

Speaking on Rwanda’s development, the President said inclusion of all Rwandans is the only option that makes sense.

“How can we talk about rebuilding the country – how can we talk about improving the standards of our people and leave behind 52 per cent of our population? It just doesn’t make sense. In the last 12 years, we’ve had economic growth of between 7 per cent and 8 per cent. This is because everybody has participated, including women,” he said.

“The country is for all of us. We share equally the benefits of what the country has to offer.

Achieving gender parity is a joint project between men and women. It requires bold steps not incremental ones. We have seen progress and if Rwanda can achieve it everyone can,” Kagame added.

“Making a difference in improving the life of a woman means that you improve the outcomes for that woman’s family, that woman’s community and, frankly, our world. It means that you create a better world for children, women and men – for all of us, plain and simple,” the host, Willow Bay, said.

Other speakers included Barbara Bush, chief executive and co-founder of Global Health Corps, who said women are architects of change and solutions.

“Where someone is born shouldn’t determine whether they live. The world will look profoundly different for women and girls if we bring together creative solutions,” she said.

The Vice President and Managing Director of Nike Foundation, Howard Taylor, spoke of the Foundation’s investment in educating girls to empower them citing the ongoing partnership with Rwanda.

Nike Foundation’s global Girl Effect campaign has been partnering with Girl Hub Rwanda, and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), in empowering Rwandan girls.

Other speakers included Folorunso Alakija, group managing director of The Rose of Sharon Group; Cherie Blair, founder of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women; Precious Moloi-Motsepe, co-founder of Motsepe Foundation, as well as leaders from various sectors, including Oscar winning actress Patricia Arquette, Princess Reema bint Banda al Saud of Saudi Arabia, and Michael Milken, founder of the Milken Institute.

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