This project seeks to examine the root cause of gender barriers preventing the majority of women in Rwanda from benefiting from economic opportunities despite access to such opportunities and strong political support for gender equality. Drawing on a comparative analysis of quantitative data and qualitative research produced during fieldwork, this paper argues that, in the short-term at least, many women encounter unintended hardships as a result of the government’s progressive gender reforms. Traditional practices still define relationships between men and women and this is not compatible with constitutional guarantees of gender equality in Rwanda. There are considerable gender inclusive gaps in legislative reforms, policies do not adequately consider normative constraints and discriminatory customary practices persist increasing women’s work burden and susceptibility to gender-based violence. Deeply entrenched patriarchal norms make it difficult to effectively implement gender reforms and have fostered resistance from some groups that feel their rights are being diminished.
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