Members of Rwandan community in Kenya, on Saturday, gathered at Invergara Club in Nairobi to mark International Women’s Day, which is globally celebrated on March 8.
The event was attended by Rwandans and their Kenyan friends and it was officiated by the Rwandan High Commissioner to Kenya, James Kimonyo.
In his remarks, Kimonyo said the contribution by Rwandan woman in socio-economic transformation dates back to 1990s during liberation struggle where women played a big role in liberating the country.
He said women have demonstrated potential to deliver on their duties equally as their male counterparts, that’s why they continue to occupy key decision-making positions.
“Our constitution provides for 30 per cent of women representation in key decision making positions but because of the potential and hard work that Rwandan women have continued to demonstrate, it has given them a leeway to do more than just what the Constitution says, that’s why they occupy 64 per cent of the sits in Parliament and at least 50 per cent in other public institutions across the country are occupied by women,” the envoy said.
He said Rwanda’s leadership does not empower women because of affirmative action policies, its rather because women are equally as capable as men.
“Our top leadership does not empower women for equality purposes, they rather give equal opportunities to women and men because we believe it’s a right not a favour and Rwandan women have proven beyond any doubt that they are capable,” Kimonyo said.
Rwandan women based in Kenya used this event to showcase their work and shared success stories of how they have been able to thrive on Kenyan market.
One Valerie Uwimana shared a story of how she ventured into tailoring business in 2013 under her company La Fontaine LTD with only one sewing machine and only one employee but has since then gone on to expand her business and currently employs thirty employees.
“I started off with only one sewing machine and one worker but now I employ thirty one full-time and 20 to 30 part-time workers depending on scope of work, these include 11 Rwandans. I have also been able to increase my sewing machines from one to 29,” she said.
Uwimana said she started with an initial capital of Ksh500,000 (about Rwf4,000,000) but now gets a turnover of about Ksh5,000,000 (about Rwf40,000,000) annually.
She said she is in the process of registration to expand her business to Rwanda.
Other Rwandan women doing business in Kenya used this event to showcase products mainly arts and crafts, cloths, shoes and carpets.