The Transformative Potential of High-Level Gender Equality: The Relationship Between Gendered Laws and Perceptions in Rwanda
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As part of its reconstruction process following the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda introduced several laws and policies protecting gender equality, which contradicted traditional patriarchal norms. This study focuses on the relationship between institutional gender reform and local perceptions. Specifically, it explores the extent to which perceptions of gender have caught up to legal changes and identifies where the greatest gaps exist across political, social, and economic spheres. Data collection occurred in two parts: quantitatively, a multiple-choice survey was distributed to 76 Rwandan adults investigating their perceptions of gender in political, social, and economic contexts. Qualitatively, structured interviews were conducted with three Rwandan gender experts in order to supplement and better explain survey findings. Both quantitative and qualitative results indicated that the greatest gaps between gender-related laws and perceptions exist at the social level, with the smallest in economic contexts. Analysis also revealed that overall, level of education was associated with more congruity between gendered laws and perceptions, while both sex and age were independent of responses. Based on these findings, this study provides recommendations for aligning gendered laws and perceptions.
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