First Lady Jeannette Kagame called on women members of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) Inkotanyi, to leverage their positions to play a key role in building a strong and secure family.
She was addressing close to 2,000 members on Sunday, during the General Assembly of the RPF Women's League at Intare Conference Arena in Rusororo.
"Women pay attention to details, which allows them to see problems that sometimes cannot be seen by everyone else, but also enables them to find ways to address them," she remarked, asking members if they are still characterized by that principle.
Mrs. Kagame urged women to go back to the drawing board, to use their positions to find solutions to challenges and problems faced by families.
"In our culture, if one vowed to do something, they would not be asked what they know, what they own or what they do. Instead, they would be asked what they did for others. This is what should characterise us," she said.
She indicated that much as it is clear that there has been progress made, some challenges persist, which may require unconventional solutions.
"Women are central in seeking solution to challenges we face in our families. We must rise to the occasion," she said.
The First Lady stated that there are good plans whose implementation has stalled, challenging members to play a role to correct them.
Mrs. Kagame highlighted that addressing the challenges that hinder the development of families can only be easily realised if there are better understood.
"When we talk about the challenges faced by a family, everyone understands them better and they can be held accountable. However, when those challenges appear again, it becomes as if no one should be held accountable," she noted.
She also told members that they should not afford to be discouraged by low levels of women participation in some areas, insisting that sometimes it's where the economic opportunities lie.
"The Women League is one of the initiatives that was established to help us become the foundation of the family and the basis for change, the change to transform our welfare and that of the country,"
Therefore, she added, the League should find ways members could access training aimed at creating change.
The First Lady gave an example of the women league in China which she said runs a number of training programmes for its members, enabling individuals to be determined to find solutions to their challenges.
Among other activities, she said, include training programmes based on principles of self-discovery, self-respect, self-confidence, self-improvement, and self-reliance.
"The League can help us figure out how best we can do as members. There is nothing that can stop us from learning from best practices," she noted.
According to Protais Musoni, the RPF Acting Secretary-General, the Women League was created in 1988 as a platform for women to play an active part in the liberation of the country.
"Indeed, women played a very significant part in the struggle," he said.
Musoni told members to be cognizant of the fact that there are some people who wish ill to the country.
"Your role as women is therefore important in making sure these are fought and defeated. You must also espouse the culture of accountability at all levels of the League," he noted.
Experts weigh in
The assembly featured a panel discussion which revolved around building a strong and secure family, featuring the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Solina Nyirahabimana; Nelly Mukazayire, the RPF Commissioner; Christine Akimpaye, the chairperson of the Women League in the Southern Province and Patrick Mico, an expert in gender matters.
Panellists indicated that while Rwanda has made several achievements, unconventional solutions were needed to build a stable family among which includes awareness and skills development.
Nyirahabimana stated that women are active economically at the lower level but their numbers continue to reduce as you go up the economic ladder.
On the other hand, Patrick Mico highlighted that change starts from family level which he said should serve as a basis to address the challenges faced by the family.
"There is an inherent issue of 'male privilege' that we must all play a role in dismantling. For instance, it is not quite often that you will see a husband to a female leader accompanying them to official functions,' he said.
It was observed that the number of women in economic development activities is still small.
"We must rise to the occasion, leverage our numbers to play a meaningful role in the economy, from the family unit to the national level," Mukazayire said.
She added that it was equally important to promote the culture of dialogue in families.
"Husband and wife should be friends first of all, talk more and this is what their children will take from them," she noted.
The Women League General Assembly featured elections of the new executive national committee.
Christine Akimpaye was elected chairperson of the women league national executive committee after polling 97 per cent of the total vote.
She will lead the Women League for the next five years.
Marie-Mediatrice Izabiliza has been declared winner of the race for vice-chair of the RPF Inkotanyi Women League. She polled 76.4 per cent of the vote. / Emmanuel Kwizera
Christine Akimpaye has been elected chairperson of the RPF Inkotanyi Women League National Executive Committee. She polled 97 per cent of the total vote. /Emmanuel Kwizera