Spotlighting Rwanda Women’s Network: The Ladder Propelling Women To Greater Heights

IT is a story of hope and perseverance for Chantal Uwanyirigira and her colleagues. However, the bigger story is not about the success they have achieved, but how they started out...

IT is a story of hope and perseverance for Chantal Uwanyirigira and her colleagues. However, the bigger story is not about the success they have achieved, but how they started out. It is a story of how they were given a shoulder to lean on and see far beyond their dream.

It is a similar story for Eugenie Mukabaziga, a gender-based violence survivor who was rescued from a life of abuse by her spouse.

“I had given up on myself and life because of the abuse I was facing from my husband. Rwanda Women’s Network not only provided psycho-social support for me but reached out to my husband. Together; we were taken into a reflection process that helped us to understand Gender Based Violence and its consequences on our family. We are now working towards making our home more peaceful,” Mukabaziga narrates.

These are some of the many testimonies from beneficiaries of Rwanda Women’s Network- an organisation that empowers women to be change-makers through gender equality.

Rwanda Women’s Network is no ordinary organisation; it spearheads a holistic women empowerment programme. It empowers women to be change-makers and go-getters with the goal of self-transformation.

Although, the focus goes beyond economic empowerment, the organisation puts special emphasis on gender equality through a unique strategy that includes men who serve as gender champions.

According to Mary Balikungeri, the network’s director and founder, the beneficiaries are taken through a journey of learning and transformation. She notes that issues tackled are based on matters that arise from households and this is done with a goal of designing messages that resonate with society.

With that, efforts are enhanced with the network’s target being improving the socio-economic welfare of women in Rwanda.

The network uses a holistic approach to address women issues through different approaches. Balikungeri says their focus is households because the family unit is the foundation of society.

“Family is important for us; we want to engage families socially, economically, and politically. Things can only change when families understand where this country has come from, where it’s going and where its vision really is,” she notes.

“We can advocate best when we do it that way, it gives women an opportunity to come forward and speak up about their challenges. We also create a knowledge hub for people to think innovatively and be able to feel that they are part and parcel of the changes that are taking place in the country,” Balikungeri says.

Programmes offered by the organisation include socio-economic empowerment, health care and support, education and awareness, governance and accountability, GBV prevention, networking and advocacy.

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A group photo of some of the facilitators and beneficiaries in Musanze. (Photos by Faustin Niyigena)

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The women are taught how to make artificial breasts for breast cancer patients.

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