Women are the heartbeat of society, says First Lady

  • By Jean Pierre Bucyensenge
  • August 08, 2013
Mrs Kagame officially opens an exhibition as part of the official opening of the Seventh Day Adventist International Women’s congress. Left is Racquel Da Costa Arrais, the Associate Director of Women’s Ministries at the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists. The New Times/Village Urugwiro.

WOMEN should remain conscious of their great role in society and work hard to develop themselves, the First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, has said.

Mrs Kagame made the remarks yesterday while opening the Seventh Day Adventist Church International Women’s Congress, in Huye District, Southern Province.

The First Lady also opened an exhibition featuring various handmade and artefact items, that seek to showcase women’s achievements and encourage sharing of experiences. 

The five-day congress, which will end on Sunday, attracted over 1,500 women delegates from 11 countries making up the East-Central Africa Division. It is held under the theme: “Chosen to Make a Difference”.

“We have come together to begin a reflection process on how we, as women and young girls, can ignite the spark that will awaken the fire and untapped potential we carry in us. Indeed there must be something real, distinct and special about those that have been chosen to make a difference,” Mrs Kagame told the gathering.

The First Lady told the women that “making a difference is a call to each and every one to live a legacy” and urged them not to lose the opportunity to bring about positive changes within their communities.

She also urged women to champion for six virtues that include Character, Humility, Obedience, Servanthood, Enlightenment and Nobility- Chosen.

“We are slowly becoming conscious about the space we occupy [in society]. We’ve been given our place, but what are we going to do with it? How are we going to make a difference? It is one thing to have it and another to maximise it,” she said, before adding: “I want you to think about what you are going to leave behind for the next generations.”

In our culture women are considered the heart of home, she added, in apparent reference to the popular Kinyarwanda adage ‘Umugore ni umutima w’urugo’. 

“We nurture, inspire and encourage those around us and, whether we realise it or not, we set the foundation for character building. Apart from being the heart of a home, the society expects a lot from us as wives, mothers, sisters, professionals and individuals.”

She told participants that the role of women is important yet complex and difficult to quantify. 

“We have to compete with men out there in the workforce and at the same time assume our roles in the homes,” the First Lady said.

Humble, but steadfast  

Noting that “women are not human beings with superpowers”, Mrs Kagame reminded the participants to always remember that there is a season and reason for everything.

She urged women to be humble but yet stand for what is right and use their positions for the greater good of humanity and their nations.

It is the first time that Rwanda is hosting the Seventh Day Adventist Church International Women’s Congress. 

Such meetings have previously taken placee in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, among other countries.

The objective of the congress is to awaken women, in general, and the Seventh Day Adventist women, in particular to always make a difference from the world around them and value a Christ-like identity, according to organisers. 

During the meeting, participants will discuss various challenges facing women such as gender based violence and obstacles to socio-economic development. 

Various speakers will address participants on emotional intelligence, how to live a purposeful life, among other topics related to the main theme.

An exhibition, highlighting women achievements in various domains, will also run during the course of the congress. 

Some of the products on display include beans, bread and doughnuts, garments, juice making technology, decoration items, among others.

Participants came from Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, South Sudan and Rwanda.

According to Esron Byiringiro, the Rwanda Adventist Union president, the country was chosen to host the function because of its leadership vis-à-vis women empowerment and gender equality.

“We expect that by the time these women leave, there will be a difference. They will leave with a lot of valuable lessons,” Byiringiro told The New Times.

Contact email: jp.bucyensenge[at]


all this is inspiring mais but at some point not matching with certain practices such as "a girl should remain under her parent's roof till" and only if "she is mooving under a husband's roof."

10:52:20 Thursday 08th, August 2013 kgl - umukobwa

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@Umukobwa: We are all aware of our common practices. However, "common practice" is not reason enough to declare the finality of any given idea or deed. Surely, women can no longer afford to be regarded as property of a man that is simply passed on to another.

Conventions like the one in the article above deserve credit and indeed should continue to discuss which 'common practices' also pass as 'reasonable and feasible practices' and which ones do not. That said, i believe strong consideration of women's personal choice of whom to live with, when and under what terms should be made.

Thereafter, Rwanda can claim progress towards sustainable development; When the livelihood of women depends not merely on culture, but on all the other factors men's livelihood does that can equally apply to women.

After all, cultures are historically very much subject to modification. In fact, the argument about women's choice of abode should now be more about ethics and intellectual maturity rather than merely the dictates of tradition.

16:48:19 Thursday 08th, August 2013 kigali - Natasha Muhoza

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