Gendering the Rwanda Defence Force: A Critical Assessment

Holmes, Georgina (2014). Gendering the Rwanda Defence Force: A Critical Assessment. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 8(4) pp. 321–333.



Over the past five years the Government of Rwanda has placed renewed emphasis on increasing the number of female military personnel and gender mainstreaming the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF). This article examines the efforts made by the RDF since 2007 to meet these strategic requirements and integrate women into the national security organ. It is suggested that, in spite of Rwanda's success in bringing women into the political sphere, women are still reluctant to join the military. It is argued that prevailing societal values and attitudes, conflicting narratives within official discourse about the role of women as security actors, resource constraints and the RDF's emphasis on ‘gender equality’ are barriers to achieving RDF goals. Drawing on in-depth interviews with RDF military personnel and government officials, as well as documentary research, the article first provides an overview of the Rwandan government's approach to mobilizing women to securitize the state, before examining how the RDF aims to progress the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda nationally and within local communities. The article then reflects on some of the factors that are hindering the recruitment and retention of female military personnel.

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