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Rwanda 21 Dec 2009

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									Dear friends                                                                             21 December 2009

The year 2009 has been my maintenance and repair year with two bouts of surgery, double
arthroscopies and a pelvic operation, giving me pain and other relief, so I am back in
Australia briefly - I am now looking forward to another very healthy decade. I began writing
this while sailing in a house boat down the Murray River from Renmark in South Australia
with the families of three of my four children, in the wake of their renowned great great great
grandfather, Captain William Randell who steered one of the first paddle steamers Mary Ann
between river ports in 1853 in Victoria to open the Murray to river traffic. Great relaxation
and splendid fun – swimming, bird-watching, climbing, rope jumping, walking among
stunning gum trees with beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the water! It is also the occasion
for the family to celebrate my 70th birthday – a bit early but I will be in New York again on 8
March 2010. I hope to have New Year with my Dubai family who were unable to travel at this
time – but that will depend on recovery time – I go into hospital in Sydney tomorrow.

I was able to visit nine gender/women studies centres in Delhi, Jaipur and Kolkata when I
travelled to India to speak at the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund’s 40th anniversary
celebration, held in conjunction with the India Federation of University Women Associations.
                                                                            Earlier this month I organised an
                                                                            international conference for gender
                                                                            centres in Africa with speakers from
                                                                            the Great Lakes Region, Cameroon,
                                                                            South Africa, Slovenia and USA
                                                                            (photo). This was the outcome of
                                                                            the Centre for Gender, Culture and
                                                                            Development’s        (CGCD)      first
                                                                            successful grant application to the
                                                                            Australian Government, with support
                                                                            from the Embassy of South Africa in
                                                                            Rwanda. I have just received the
                                                                            welcome news that the Norwegian
   Speakers from gender centres in Africa relaxing at CGCD after conference Government will fund the masters
                                                                            program at CGCD at the Kigali
Institute of Education – I have signed a 3 year contract for the position of Director of CGCD
with the possibility of a 3 year renewal (probably by then as Assistant Director to a
Rwandan), delighted about the prospect of spending another productive 6 years in Rwanda.

Rwanda. Rwanda has been admitted as the 54th member in the Commonwealth group of
nations, composed mainly of former British colonies. Almost simultaneously, Rwanda and
France agreed to restore diplomatic relations, three years after the two countries severed
ties over an incident triggered by controversial indictments issued by a French judge.

Awards. The Doing Business Report of the World Bank Group ranked Rwanda as the
world’s top reformer in creating a business-friendly environment, jumping within one year
from 139th to 67th out of 186 countries sampled – almost 60 positions. No country in the
world has ever managed such a feat. According to the report, Rwanda is the 5th highest
ranking African country after Mauritius (17th), South Africa (34th), Botswana (45th) and
Namibia (66th), beating Africa’s other giants like Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia,
Egypt and Morocco in being open for business. Out of the 10 indicators of the Report,
Rwanda registered massive reforms in starting a business (from 14 to two days), employing
workers, dealing with construction permits, registering property, getting credit, protecting
investors, trading across borders and closing business. The business reforms are part of the
government’s wider efforts to promote Rwanda as a business and investment destination, in
order to drive the growth of the private sector and generate wealth. Rwanda’s economy
showed resilience, growing at an average of 9 percent in the first half of 2009, driven mainly
by both an expanding industrial base and a good crop yield. President Paul Kagame has
since been appointed by the World Bank as a member of its 2011 World Development
Report team, which will focus on the links among conflict, security, governance, and
development, being invited as a leader in advancing global thinking in this field.

Rwanda emerged the least corrupt nation in East Africa and the Great Lakes Region
according to the Corruption Perception Index 2009 released by Transparency International,
which ranked Rwanda 89th out of 180 countries, sharing the 10th position of least corrupt
countries on the African continent alongside Lesotho, Malawi and Morocco. Rwanda scored
3.3 out of a possible 10 points, improving by 0.3 from its 2008 score of 3, and very much
compared to its neighbours, which are actually declining - a major concern to the region in
general. The report indicates that as the world economy begins to register tentative recovery
from the financial crisis, some nations continue to wrestle with ongoing conflict, poverty and
insecurity and that no region of the world is immune to the perils of corruption. The African
continent however remains on top as the region where corruption is most prevalent. A
meeting in Kigali of Ombudsmen from ten African countries as well as Sweden was a further
vote of confidence that Rwanda’s sustained fight against corruption and mismanagement
has been noticed well beyond our borders.

For his outstanding leadership in transforming Rwanda by forging a strong, unified and
growing nation, President Kagame was awarded the 2009 Clinton Global Citizen award for
Public Service. The award recognised Kagame for working to strengthen infrastructure,
develop rural health and education systems, increase access to energy in rural areas and
develop ties with the international business community. Former US President Bill Clinton
described Kagame as ‘one of the greatest leaders of our time’, not only for the socio-
economic prosperity or the political stability that he has ushered into Rwanda, but also for
the act of freeing the hearts and minds of his people to think about the future, a ‘miraculous’
transformation after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. In this small landlocked country
with limited resources, Kagame is investing in intellectual capital by partnering with Google,
Intel and Cisco to help turn the country into an African technological hub with trained tech
professionals. He is the first to acknowledge that much more work remains to be done and
does not deny that it’s an uphill battle, but refuses to put a ceiling to his ambitious vision.

Other recent awards received by Kagame include the Global Leadership Team’s Most
Innovative People Award for Economic Innovation during the Lebanon 2020 Summit, the
International Medal of Peace given by Pastor Rick & Kay Warren of Saddleback Church, and
the Utah State University’s Presidential Merit Citation Award, especially for the increase of
students in higher learning institutions. In 1994 before the genocide, there were 2,500
students in post-secondary schools - now over 45,000 students, an increase of 1000%.

Awards have also been received by government agencies. Rwandan Immigration
Department beat all African countries to win the prestigious 2009 African Association for
Public Administration and Management award with its innovative Online Visa Application
project. Rwanda was the only African country to be awarded with one of the five Tourism
awards - the Best Stand Personnel - at the World Travel Market Exhibition in London.

Health. Rwanda’s proactive stance in health has continued with over three million condoms
distributed by the National AIDS Control Commission as one of the main activities to mark
this year’s World AIDS Day. Millions of female condoms were distributed for free, while male
condoms cost RWF100, about 50 cents. The increased access to condoms is a bid to
reduce HIV infections. With increasing nutritional progress, maternal health improvement
and implementation of the nine-year basic education programme that includes pre-school,
Rwanda has been cited as a nation committed to the development of its youngest
population. Compared to other African countries, Rwanda has done well. Most women
access antenatal care - a vital stage for child development. Over 50 percent of pregnant
women now deliver at health facilities compared to 30 percent in previous years.

Education. In an effort to beat the three-month deadline to construct the 3,172 classrooms
required for its new nine-year basic education programme, the Ministry of Education has
enlisted the services of the Rwanda Defence Forces and the National Police. Communities
at district and sector levels are also involved in the building program, with the Minister
demanding that every Rwandan has to play a role if construction is to be completed on time.
The additional classrooms are to accommodate students who will enrol in 2010. The
program ensures that students complete six years of primary & three years of secondary at
the same school. The new education system was adopted to cut-down on the dropout rates.

Police. The National Police force is setting up a Gender Directorate, charged with gender
mainstreaming and research, that will focus on boosting gender equality ‘by empowering
both women and men through dissemination of information, coordination and networking
with all stakeholders and mainstreaming of gender at all levels’. The directorate will facilitate
the implementation process of national, regional and international gender equality
instruments and inform women of their rights through discussions and counselling.

Women’s advancement. 2008 was the beginning of a reform process within the UN that
could result in profound change for women worldwide. Ongoing discussions within the
General Assembly during the last two years have resulted in overwhelming support for new
and improved gender architecture within the UN, creating a new women’s entity that will
have strong country presence, significant funding capacity, high level leadership and a
strategic normative and policy making function. In October the UNESCO General
Conference elected Irina Bokova, a Bulgarian diplomat, as its first female head. Gender
equality and education for sustainable development are both high on her agenda. German
Chancellor Merkel was re-elected with an easy victory. The Indian government's move to
raise reservation for women from 33 per cent to 50 per cent at all tiers of local government is
historic. Not only does it recognise that women, who constitute 50 per cent of the population,
must have adequate representation in the public space, it also validates the good work of
several women grassroots leaders who have helped transform their communities and
localities. Mani Shankar Aiyar, former Union minister for Panchayati Raj said, "This is a
richly deserved tribute to the women who, under the 33 per cent quota, got into 'panchayats'
and performed with such distinction that it forced a laggard Centre to join the ranks of eight
states, which had already granted 50 per cent reservations to women. And Bangladesh has
increased the number of reserved seats for women by more than double to 100 - there will
be direct election in these seats. Sheikh Hasina’s government is working to ensure
recruitment, promotion and placement of women in top positions in the administration, armed
forces, autonomous bodies, educational institutions and judicial service.

Family News. Doug, Julie and Nathan are still enjoying life in Dubai and the travel
opportunities that being a doctor with Emirates Airlines provides. Doug visited WW1
battlefields in Turkey, Julie visited South Africa and had two short trips to Australia, and
Nathan went walking in Cyprus (Duke of Edinburgh), toured South India with his youth group
and attended a music camp in Bahrain. Both Julie and Nathan spent their summer in
Queensland where Nathan successfully completed his Grade 6 viola examination, following
the achievement of straight As in all his O-level subjects. Julie completed her teaching
qualifications in TESOL with the London Teachers College and continues to teach piano
privately from home. Doug and Nathan play with the UAE Philharmonic Orchestra and enjoy
their scuba diving. They continue to offer hospitality to many visitors.

Andrew has taken a break from Elite rowing coaching and moved to South Australia to live
with his partner Vicky, taking up a position as Director of Rowing at Prince Alfred College.
They plan to marry in the New Year. Vicky is the Director of Rowing at Walford School, Head
Coach at Adelaide Rowing Club and has recently been appointed as a High Performance
coach at the SA Institute of Sport. Emilia, Harrison and Isabella lived with Lynda in Sydney
while completing their school year. Emilia has graduated from year 12, has her driving
license and drives the family car. She has three jobs and is enjoying being financially
independent. Harry completed year 9 at Kings and has continued to do well in his studies
and excel in sport, being invited to a Wallabies Rugby Union national talent identification
program and winning a full boarding scholarship and half fees at the Kings School. He is a
corporal in the cadet corps, a member of the Stage Band and completed his Duke of
Edinburgh Bronze. Bella has completed year 8 at Tara and continues to do well
academically as well as singing with the School Choir and the Sydney Children’s Choir and
being an active member of Girl Guides.

Jessicca finished year 3 this year and Alicia year 1 in the gifted and talented classes at
Haberfield public school. Both girls were busy with music, dance, swimming and drama
activities after school. Their end of year concert for dance was Alice in Wonderland which
the girls loved. Adam’s computer company has grown this year with his business partner
involved again, following his return from Nepal. They are looking to take on a trainee to keep
up with demand. Ellen has finished another year as Women’s Coach at UTS Rowing Club
and again took a crew to the World Rowing Championships in Poland. Both Adam and Ellen
continue their involvement at St David’s Uniting Church in Haberfield where Adam is
treasurer and Ellen is now helping to run the children’s ministry.
.
Erica and Ian were married this year and had lots of travel together connected with Ian
presenting academic papers on Aboriginal art and artists at various international
conferences. They both loved returning to Italy midyear, where Erica also presented a paper,
and they spent time with family and friends over east in September. Erica enjoyed a stint of
research work in Kununurra seeing old Northern Territory friends, and continues with her
yoga and PhD studies. They will miss Inci and his partner Katie who have moved to
Melbourne, closer to Paris and Lena, who are continuing their studies in law and
economics. Little Mila is a special joy for Lena, James, and the whole family and is growing
vigorously. The Perth household will downsize to three in 2010: Levi is ever busy with his
tennis and Thai kickboxing and his final year of school ahead, expecting the TEE results to
help him determine his future.

Let me share a wonderful verse from the Persian poet, Hafiz
Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth, “You owe me”
Look what happens with a love like that –
It lights the whole sky.

My greetings of love and peace to you during this special season.

Shirley

Professor Shirley Randell AM, PhD,
Director, CGCD, KIE, Rwanda
PO Box 5039, Remera, Kigali, Rwanda
Tel: +250 (0)2 5511 7138 Fax: +250 (0)2 5258
6890 Mob: +250 (0)7 8830 8967
Australian mobile 0419 005 936
mail@shirleyrandell.com.au
www.shirleyrandell.com.au
shirley.randell@ifuw.org www.ifuw.org/rwanda


On the holiday houseboat
L to R - Back: Levi, Harrison, Andrew, Shirley,
Isabella, Emilia, Ian, Front: Adam, Amara, Vicky,
Alicia, Emilia, Ellen, Erica

								
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