Gendering the Rwanda Defence Force: A Critical Assessment

In this post, we feature a new article on gender and the Rwanda Defence Force by Dr. Georgina Holmes (Lecturer in International Relations, University of Portsmouth). 

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.

A full version of this article is currently available to download for free from the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding.  

Studying Agaciro: Moving Beyond Wilsonian Interventionist Knowledge Production on Rwanda

In this post, Dr. Olivia Rutazibwa (Lecturer in International Development and European Studies, University of Portsmouth) offers an outline of her new article, which was recently published in the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding.

Twenty years after the end of the Rwandan genocide, knowledge production on the small country of a thousand hills remains a clamorous battle ground of post- and decolonial power and influence. This essay critically engages with the knowledge production on Rwanda in the West by conceptualizing it as a Wilsonian intervention in the post-colony:  paternalistically well-intended at the service of the peace, democracy and free trade liberal triad, while at the same time silencing, self-contradictory and potentially counterproductive. The Wilsonian interventionist form of knowledge production is coated in a language of critical engagement and care. At the same time it is and allows for a continuous external engagement in view of this Wilsonian triad — a highly particularist view on the good life, cast in universal terms. As a former journalist and a researcher from the Belgian Rwandan diaspora and building on a decolonial research strategy, in this essay I reflect on potentially different avenues to produce and consume knowledge on the country. I do this by discussing the  challenges and creative opportunities of a recently started research project on Agaciro (self-worth): a philosophy and public policy in post-genocide Rwanda rooted in its precolonial past, centred on the ideals of self-determination, dignity and  self-reliance. Rather than inscribing itself firmly into the canon that aims at informing on Rwanda, this research project seeks to contribute to a different mode of imagining, studying and enacting sovereignty in today’s academic and political world, both permeated by the hegemonic principle of the responsibility to protect (R2P).

A full version of Olivia’s article is currently available to download for free from the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding.