Gender Stratification and Women in Developing Nations
March 18, 2011
The purpose of this paper is to analyze gender stratification and its relation to women in Rwanda; also the demographic imbalance in post-genocide Rwanda will be explored. In addition in the following paragraphs the current roles women in Rwanda play in the areas of economics, politics, and social development after genocide will be discussed.
In Rwanda in 1994 genocide occurred with mass killings of hundreds of thousands of minority Tutsis and Hutu. The death tolls are believed to be 800,000 or more. The three main ethnic groups in Rwanda have a very long history of social differences. Although ...view middle of the document...
The Rwanda population consists of three tribes; the largest is the Hutu tribe which is about 85% of the population, then the Tutsi tribe which consists of about 14% of the population, and last is the Twa which only makes up 1% of the population. The Twa did not have much direct involvement in the power struggles that lead to the genocide. Each of these tribes had their own occupation, with Hutu engaged more in cultivation, Tutsi in raising livestock, and Twa in hunting and forestry (Social Stratification of Rwanda People, 2008). There clearly was a status distinction between Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa, with Tutsi at the top of the social hierarchy and Twa at the bottom (Rwanda Culture in Africa, 2008). Hutus and Tutsis are both of the same races but have different feature which set them apart. The Hutu are stocky and short with rounded faces, flat noses, and dark skin (History, 2010). Tutsi are much taller, lighter skinned with oval faces and straight noses. The Tutsis’ physical appearance led many to believe they are of Ethiopian descent (History, 2010). In Rwanda the society is patriarchal with men holding more powerful positions than women. According to Countries and Their Cultures “Agricultural work is divided between women and men. Men clear the land and assist women in breaking the soil, while women engage in most of the day-to-day farming activities, such as planting, weeding, and harvesting. Men bear the primary responsibility for overseeing livestock, assisted by youths who act as shepherds. Men also do heavy jobs around the house, such as construction, while women are responsible for maintaining the household, raising children, and preparing food. Formal nonfarm employment in Rwanda is dominated by men, while women often participate in informal nonfarm economic activities, such as market trading.” (Countries and Their Cultures, 2011). Women in contemporary Rwanda hold few political positions and have limited economic power, as seen in the difficulties women have in inheriting land and property (Countries and Their Cultures, 2011). Countries and Their Cultures states that “marriage is considered the most basic social institution in Rwanda, and the pressure to marry and have children is quite heavy.” The article goes on to state “marriage across ethnic lines between Hutu and Tutsi is relatively common.” (Countries and Their Cultures, 2011). However the Twa tribe faces segregation and is discriminated against by both the Hutu and Tutsi and intermarriage with the Twa is not allowed although intermarriage between Hutu and Tutsi is common. Over the years frequent intermarriages and economic relations have manage to blur the lines that differentiate between Tutsi and Hutu. Before the colonization of Rwanda, differences in social status between these groups held more importance than ethnic differences (History, 2010).
With its long history of hierarchical social relations, Rwandan culture puts great emphasis on practices of...