• Accountable Governance

Leaders Inspire Students in Kigali

On Thursday, March 13, in the spirit of celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women in the month of International Women’s Day, UN Women together with One UN Rwanda organized the Inspiring Leaders’ Event at the College of Business and Economics (CBE) in Kigali.

Attended by a dozen powerful, successful, and inspiring female leaders in Rwanda, the event included a series of thematic Focus Group Discussions attended by university students from several Rwandan universities. The focus group discussions were led by female leaders from the fields of Health, Politics, Business, and Education. Students, the leaders of tomorrow, had the opportunity to interact and network with inspiring women in their fields.

The discussion groups also yielded something more permanent: the solutions, challenges, and opportunities identified during the discussions will contribute to the discussions held at the Commission on the Status of Women meeting (CSW58) in New York from 10 – 21 March 2014.

The leaders

The following inspiring leaders and focus group moderators that participated in the event.

See pictures of the leaders at the event here.

  1. Dr. Marie Aimee Muhimpundu, (Access to Health) Head of the Non-Communicable disease Unit at the Ministry of Health.
  2. Dr. Maria Mujawamariya Mugabo, (Access to Health), WHO
  3. Diana Ofwona (Speaker) UN Women Representative
  4. Rose Kabuye (Entrepreneurship) retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Rwandan Army, former Mayor of the City of Kigali and Rwandan Chief of State Protocol. She is currently working in the private sector as Chief Executive Officer of Virunga Logistics and Startech Limited.
  5. Francesca Mukakarangwa (Access to Finance) (Director SACCO Development BDF)
  6. Catherine Heaton (Education: Vocational Training) Principal at the Akilah Institute for Women, a college that offers a unique model of market-relevant education empowering graduates for success in careers and leadership roles.
  7. Dr. Aurore Umutesi (Postgraduate Education) Representative from Kepler, a free for students, low-cost, high-quality blended-learning model education program which uses open-source, online content from Western universities and on-site classroom instruction to provide better education to Rwandan university students.
  8. Therese Karugwiza (Politics and Local Leadership) UNFPA Programme Specialist on Gender and Human Rights
  9. Immacullee Habiyambere (Civil Society) Independent consult on gender equality
  10. Ignatienne Nyirarukundo, (Guest of Honor) President of the Rwandan Women Parliamentary Forum (FFRP)
  11. Hope Tumukunde (Politics) Vice-Mayor of the City of Kigali
  12. Nadia Uwamahoro (Entrepreneurship) Founder of Data Systems Ltd, an outsourcing software development company, and GiraICT, a project that aims at boosting ICT penetration in Rwanda by extending ICT gadgets to students, teachers, general salaried employees.

The event was officiated by Master of Ceremony Edouard Munyamaliza, the executive secretary of the Rwandan Men’s Resource Centre (Rwamrec). He introduced the two guest speakers: Diana Ofwona, the representative from UN Women, and Ignatienne Nyirarukundo, President of the Rwandan Women Parliamentary Forum (FFRP).

Speaking about the role of UN Women and the decision to organize this event, Ms Ofwona explained that International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the progress made for women’s rights, empowerment, and equality. With the following themes at the global and national levels respectively - “Equality for Women is Progress for All” and “Inspiring Change”, UN Women and One UN Rwanda brought these two strong themes together at an inspiring event attended by male and female university students, to discuss the challenges that stand in the way of “progress for all”, but also to “inspire change”.

The discussion at CBE took place in parallel with a global discussion taking place in New York, called the Commission on the Status of Women. The purpose of both discussions is to document the reality of women’s lives throughout the globe and to influence and shape global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women. Ms Ofwona:

What you share with us will be included in the Rwanda report to the Commission. By participating today, you will influence the global agenda and let your voice be heard. I therefore urge you all to fully take this opportunity to express your opinions regarding challenges and opportunities that women and girls face in Rwanda today.

Students and leaders provided many valuable insights and recommendation in all sectors. Full recommendations and more pictures can be found here.