Carine Plancke


Post-genocide politics in Rwanda aim to construct a new, modern and developed nation. Gender equality is one of the issues highlighted to this end. However, in order to defend current reforms, politicians and feminist lobbyists generally refer to women’s traditional position as wives and mothers, embedded in the sacred value attributed to fertility. This article explores Rwandan dance to examine the evolution of views on feminine specificity and gender complementarity within the socio-political context of the promotion of gender equality. Through examining a government-supported youth troupe, founded by Tutsi returnee students, and contrasting it with a female drum troupe, which brings together mostly uneducated, middle-aged Rwandan-born women, the article interrogates the widely held view of a linear evolution from tradition, gender complementarity and women’s subordination to modernity, gender equality and women’s emancipation. Instead, it explores the degree to which divergent views on feminine difference in Rwanda foster women’s empowerment.

Author Biography

Carine Plancke is Guest Professor at the Department of African Languages and Cultures at the University of Ghent (Belgium). She holds an Advanced MA in Women’s Studies from the University of Antwerp and a PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the School of Advanced Studies in Social Science in Paris and the University of Leuven.