Lisa P. Nathan: I’m going to ask you about a specific challenge that I have read about, about working at the ICTR and it has to do with gender issues, so as a woman who has a, a job as a Chief here, do you have any reflections, thoughts or experiences of that particular challenge of working with colleagues who, because of perhaps cultural reasons, have different ways of dealing with men and with women?
Yes, I – first of all, I must say that there’s a rule. I believe I benefited from the rule that in the recruitment process, if you have equal competencies, priority goes to women.
LPN: How, do you know how long that rule has been in place? Do you know anything about . . .
I don’t know how long but that, that’s a rule in that is really in use. I, I can’t say how long . . .
. . . it’s been around, that priority, priority go, goes to women when there is equal qualification between a man and a woman in the recruitment.
But you, yeah, true. There is this cultural, we are always charged with our cultural (__), cultural backgrounds and I've had colleagues, yes. I’ve had colleagues who, I’ve had fights here just because I've, I’m, I was a woman and there were situations where it wasn’t said, it wasn’t explicit, but I just felt that there was no other explanation to some people’s reaction other than the fact that I was a woman.
And there’s this challenge and i-, in spite of this rule, if you count people in managerial positions, women still have a very small percentage of manage-, women holding managerial positions are still a very small percentage compared to men.
But I wouldn’t really say that this is because it is intended. It also be because, be- of our cultural background, women feel that they should not be applying to managerial positions but when you go down the ladder, secretaries, you know, clerk, you’ll see a lot of women. Maybe we were trained just to be in those positions compared to men.
LPN: Do you have any ideas on how to change or do you think that should be something that’s worked on in the future? Perhaps if you had a, a female colleague who you thought might be interested or might be qualified, would you encourage her to apply for one of the managerial positions?
Of course. I myself am in a managerial position and it is not because women are not, not qualified. If you see, if you see the literacy rates in various African countries, you’ll see that men and women are sensibly equal so women are as qualified as men. So I, I would en-, encourage women to – I really believe that there is also, it is also due to women’s attitudes.
I really believe that. And it is not our culture for a woman to, for a, a lady to be outspoken. If you are outspoken or if you simply express yourself then you are put in another category, but I don’t think that should stop us from, you know, from getting what we deserve. I’m not, I'm not even saying ambitious, just getting what we deserve.
LPN: Would you have any tips for this colleague?
I ac-, actually don’t know what you mean by tip. When I, I look at a job, a job vacancy, my attitude would be, wouldn’t be, "Am I a man or a woman?" My attitude would be, "Do my qualifications match the exp-, the requirements of the post?" That’s my attitude and I will advise other people to do so.
I remember last year, we were celebrating, or this year, in March this year, we’re celebrating the International Women’s Day. And if you see this in my, in my office, there’s actually a calendar that was done for the occasion and really talking about women who made a change in ICTR.
In the preparation of this day, we had a discussion among wo-, women friends and said, “I think that day, we should really be talking about, you know, comparing the number of men versus women employed at ICTR, the number of men versus women in certain positions so that from there we can note if there are corrective actions to be made.” But that was not done, but it was voiced and that’s how we feel.