6 December 2012

Rwanda: Aloisea Inyumba, Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Passes Away

The Gender and Family Promotion Minister, Aloisea Inyumba, has passed away this morning at her home in Kigali.

The news was confirmed by Janvier Ndayizeye, the communication specialist at the Prime Minister's office. He declined to comment further, saying the government was still waiting for more details about the Minister's death from her family.

A Migeprof employee, who requested anonymity, told The Rwanda Focus that Inyumba had not appeared in public and office for quite some time. "I arrived here (at Migeprof) in June but I did not find her here and have never seen her since my arrival," the employee said.

According to a reliable source, the 50-year-old minister had been suffering from throat cancer. She had been treated in Belgium, and was supposed to go to Nairobi today for further treatment.

The permanent secretary at Migeprofe, Julienne Munyaneza, also refused to comment. "I cannot talk about it now," she said.

Aloisea Inyumba was born on January 1, 1962 in Uganda, where her mother had fled after her husband (Inymba's father) was killed in the massacres of Tutsis in the early 60s. She grew up in refugee camps, yet she managed to obtain a degree from Makerere University. Shortly afterwards, she joined the RPF, where she was first involved in a peace education program in schools, and later took charge of the movement's financial arm, where she was responsible for fundraising.

Upon returning to Rwanda, Inyumba served as the first Minister of Gender and Social Affairs from 1994 to 1999. As Minister at the time, she was part of the leadership team that faced the challenges resulting from the Genocide. For her ministry, this included organizing the adoption of the large number of orphans and the establishment of the national women's network to adjudicate family and property issues resulting from the Genocide.

Shortly after her appointment, she made the courageous but controversial decision to appoint as her deputy a lawyer whose husband had been imprisoned for acts of Genocide. Faced with public outrage erupted, she remained steadfast and said the woman should be judged on her own capacities, not the crimes of her husband.

From 1999 to 2001, Inyumba served as Executive Secretary to the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC). Inyumba's beliefs were that women are by nature peace makers and should use their abilities to lead peace and reconciliation initiatives in the communities and spearhead efforts at national unity.

Inyumba served as a Senator from 2004. As a Senator, she served on two committees: Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security Committee and Political Affairs and Good Governance Committee. While in Parliament, she was an active member of the Rwanda Women Parliamentary Forum, which brings together Rwandan Women Parliamentarians.

She had been Minister for Gender and Family Promotion since May 2011.

Earlier this year, Inyumba was named laureate of the Courage Award from the organization Women Have Wings. She was passionate about women's involvement in politics and leadership and took an active role in representing women's voices to local government throughout Rwanda. She had been involved with women at the grassroots, encouraging them to participate actively in the decision making processes in their communities and the nation and exhorting them to rise up and use their gifts as leaders.

Inyumba has been actively involved in the liberation and rebuilding of Rwanda and is an active member of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) which put an end to the genocide in Rwanda. She was passionate about the unity and development of Rwanda as a nation.

She held an Honors Degree in Social Work and Social Administration from Makerere University Kampala, and an honorary doctorate from La Roche College in the United States. She held also a Masters of International Relations from the Irish American University.

She served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace and was a member of the African Women Advisory Committee.

She was married and leaves behind two children.

[a big part of this article has been taken from the Minster's biography on the Migeprof website]

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