Gender and the military in post-genocide Rwanda

Holmes, Georgina (2018). Gender and the military in post-genocide Rwanda. In: Bemporad, Elissa and Warren, Joyce W. eds. Women and Genocide: Survivors, Victims, Perpetrators. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.



More than twenty years on from the genocide, the central role played by the Presidential Guard, the Forces Armèes Rwandaises (FAR) and Gendarmerie Nationale (GN) in committing genocide in 1994, and of the Rwandan Patriotic Army in committing war crimes and contributing to the climate of insecurity in the early 1990s continues to be a legacy issue for the ruling party the RPF. The current government of Rwanda has embarked on an ambitious program to modernize state security organs and build trust among its citizens. Part of this plan includes integrating more women into the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) and developing a more gender representative and responsive security sector. This chapter undertakes a process-orientated study of genocide to consider how the gendered nature of genocide continues to influence security policies in post-conflict Rwanda, and informs Rwandan women?s motives for joining state security organs. It is argued that while the RDF?s gender program supports shared national policy goals to mainstream gender equality across politics, economy, and culture, the program has been designed to help improve the reputation of the national armed forces and in doing so, sets out to strengthen the legitimacy of the authoritarian state. This is achieved in three ways: by supporting the implementation of internal security policy goals; attempting to improve civil-military relations; and transforming societal perceptions of military women.

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