Rwanda launches African Women Leaders Network chapter

Rwanda's women legislators. The country has the highest ranking for female representation across the world. The country has launched the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) chapter.

Photo credit: Cyril Ndegeya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Launch took place during the Rwanda Women Leaders Network (RWLN) Summit held in Kigali under the theme 'Building the Next Generation of Women Leaders".
  • Event was attended by over 250 women leaders from various backgrounds and graced by Rwanda’s First Lady Jeannette Kagame.

Rwanda launched the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) chapter during the Rwanda Women Leaders Network (RWLN) Summit held in Kigali under the theme 'Building the Next Generation of Women Leaders".

The launch was attended by over 250 women leaders from various backgrounds, including government officials and leaders from the private sector, and graced by Rwanda’s First Lady Jeannette Kagame, who urged members of RWLN to continue innovating and protecting the progress made, so that future generations can benefit and build on what has been achieved.

The RWLN was founded in 2011 by Ms Kagame with the aim of serving as a platform for women leaders to provide peer learning, support, and mentoring of young women in different aspects of leadership, including political, entrepreneurship, and community engagement.

The organisation was merged with AWLN during the summit, with a focus on aligning areas of intervention and addressing gaps in efforts to empower women to fully participate in transformative and sustainable development. To enhance the effectiveness of the two organisations, the First Lady emphasised the importance of having a clear and achievable goal.

"I urge the members to be intentional about what they want, understand the reasons for their fight, and have a well-planned strategy to achieve their goals. There is also the need for collaboration, support, and learning among members to create strong and visible changes,” said Ms Kagame.

Ms Beneta Diop, the African Union Commission (AUC) Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, commended the country for joining the continental organisation.

“Rwanda has a lot of women leadership experience to share and the AWLN is eager to join forces with the leadership and learn from the brave women, while co-creating solutions to a transformed leadership landscape in Africa.

"We, the women of Africa, are proud of the strides achieved by the country, a model on the continent ranging from an enabling policy, legal and institutional framework, enhanced socioeconomic and political participation,” said Ms Diop.

She noted that Rwanda has set the tone and paved the way for a continental and global model of gender equality.

According to the 2021 National Gender Statistics report, 61.3 per cent of Rwanda's parliamentary seats are occupied by women, while women cabinet members are 55 per cent and women district mayors standing at 30 per cent.

Prof Jeannette Bayisenge, Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, highlighted the goals of RWLN, which she said includes sharing knowledge and expertise while maintaining their roles as mothers and educators. She emphasised the importance of supporting new women in leadership by holding their hands and guiding them to success.

"There is the need to implement gender equality and equity in decision-making positions, encouraging members of the network to approach this goal differently,” said Prof Bayisenge, adding that the two organisations will be launching a website to allow new women leaders to apply for mentors in their respective fields.

UN Women Country Representative Jennet Kem emphasised the importance of values and principles in guiding women leaders. She advised women to define their values and live by them, and suggested that values such as hard work, family, faith, excellence, and personal drive could guide them.

The UN Women boss urged women leaders to scan their environment for challenges and co-create solutions to make their leadership impactful. “I commend the Rwandese government for its exceptional track record and commitment to support women’s participation in decision making positions. This has reaffirmed the country’s commitment to be a global champion for women’s leadership in social-economic, political, peace and humanitarian spheres."

Ms Kem called on senior women leaders to be the voice of the many young women who can be today's leaders but cannot because they have been left behind as a result of poverty,violence and discrimination.


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