This article examines the gacaca trials of women accused of perpetrating the Rwandan genocide, asking whether and how ideas about their gender impacted their defences, testimonies and experiences as defendants. It uses court reports of the trials of 91 accused women; a set of sources that provides novel insights into the role of gender in an African transitional justice system. These sources reveal that ideas about gender – particularly female peacefulness and passivity – were commonly invoked by both accused women and wider trial participants. These gendered ideas not only helped women to achieve acquittals, but they also contributed to the Rwandan state's construction of a ‘truth’ narrative that ordinary Rwandan women are not capable of genocide violence. Additionally, women's trials reveal a further function of the gacaca process: as a political tool that made moral judgements about contemporary Rwandan women's domestic roles and place within the household.