Social security programs aimed at meeting the individual's basic welfare needs have been established in law since independence. Old age pensions for workers, sickness and maternity benefits, and payments for those injured on the job are provided for all wage earners. There are government-and missionary-sponsored mutual aid societies, which increasingly supply the many social services once provided by the clan and family under Rwanda's traditional social structure. In 1994, there was a total breakdown of all governmental services throughout the country. Most of the population live in poverty and engage in subsistence agriculture.
Although sex discrimination is outlawed by the constitution, women have only limited property rights and are not treated equally in employment, education, and other areas. Men are designated as legal heads of households, and women do not have equal property rights. In 1999 the legislature passed a law allowing women to inherit property from their fathers and husbands and provides a choice of property arrangements for married couples. Domestic violence and wife beating are prevalent.
Although the security situation has improved dramatically since the genocide of 1994, sporadic episodes of violence continue to erupt, and the government's human rights record remains poor. Rwandan troops have also committed excesses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.