Kigali 4th November, 2021 - UN Women Rwanda and the Local Development Authority (LODA) signed a new partnership agreement worth 300,000$ of unconditional cash transfers in support of the livelihood recovery of 1,700 women-headed households who fell into extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants will be distributed through GiveDirectly Rwanda, an international NGO specialized in administering and implementing unconditional cash transfers to the most economically vulnerable populations. Beneficiaries are women-headed households from Nyamasheke, Musanze and Nyagatare Districts and they will receive the cash transfers through mobile money administered by MTN. The targeted districts are home to many women whose livelihoods, mainly based on informal cross-border trade, were severely impacted by restrictions on cross-border trade to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Social protection systems are an indispensable component of a coordinated policy response to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that people can effectively access health care while supporting livelihood security for the most affected households. As such, social protection constitutes an important part of the national recovery plan implemented by the Government of Rwanda in collaboration with development partners including the UN system. The plan makes provision for expanded access to social protection to households and communities most impacted by COVID-19. In this spirit the cash transfers under the UN Women- LODA agreement intend to support vulnerable populations, especially women for a more inclusive recovery. “The pandemic threatens to reverse the gains made on gender equality; exacerbate the feminization of poverty, increase vulnerability to sexual and gender-based violence, and limit women's equal participation in the labor force. Mitigating this risk requires higher and more targeted investments, as well as adequate social safety nets for the most vulnerable.,” says Fatou Lo, UN Women Representative in Rwanda.
In Rwanda, evidence from various assessments including the rapid gender assessment of the impact of COVID-19 conducted by UN Women and UNFPA in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) in November 2020 found that women were disproportionately affected in terms of unpaid care work and lost income, particularly those relying on informal businesses and daily wages. Findings from the Labor Force Survey (LFS-2019) also indicate that over the past three years, more women were employed in the informal sector compared to men, which means that women were more vulnerable to economic shocks such as the one caused by the pandemic.
While signing the Agreement, UN Women Country Representative Ms. Fatou Lo and LODA Director-General Ms. Claudine Nyinawagaga, mutually committed to strengthening efforts to accelerate women’s resilience and recovery. “The gender dimension of this project complements LODA’s efforts in mainstreaming gender and childcare instruments within the Vision 2020 Umurenge Program, let alone the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic could have far-reaching socio-economic consequences on families if the gender equity is not given the due attention. There is evidence that even under normal environment, women are more likely to fall into poverty trap, which means their situation could be aggravated by the Covid 19 pandemic; promoting women’s participation in the labour force is a strong safeguard against lack of confidence and vulnerability of being prey to sexual and gender-based violence. Most importantly it such investments boost their productivity in favor of their families’ welfare.”; says Nyinawagaga.
In addition to the partnership with LODA, UN Women is also providing support to several civil society organizations namely (1) SOLID Africa to support in-patients and caregivers essentially women to reduce their burden of care; (2) Rwanda Women Network to strengthen capacities and knowledge to prevent and respond to SGBV, through toll-free helplines and mobile GBV clinics; (3) Faith Victory Association to provide social safety nets to 100 teen mothers from Nyagatare District; (4) Legal Aid Forum to offer legal assistance to women who experienced SGBV during the COVID-19 lockdowns as well as the (5) National Association Supporting People Living with HIV(ANSP+), which has extended its services to female domestic workers who lost their jobs and were at greater risk of unsafe and life-threatening alternatives.