The First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, has said that Rwanda has defined a clear future for itself by fitting all its sectors into one broad vision.
She was speaking on Wednesday at an event organised by the George W Bush Institute and the World Vision in New York, which also attracted First Ladies from Ethiopia, Zambia and Ghana, as well as representatives of multi-national corporations such as Google, Speranza, McArthur and Girl Up.
Mrs. Kagame spoke about Rwanda's transformation journey, citing the work of Imbuto Foundation in promoting women rights, among other activities.
“My Foundation is trying to complement public service, which is quite effective. I, together with a sisterhood of caring and committed women, created the Imbuto Foundation,” she said.
The First Lady explained: “Imbuto in our language means seed and our credo is a seed well planted, watered, nurtured and given all the necessary support successfully grows into a healthy plant - one that reaches high and stands tall.”
Mrs. Kagame founded the organisation more than a decade ago.
She said that the initiative was birthed by the need to define a clear future for all Rwandans. “Our mission is to support the development of a healthy, educated and prosperous society.’
She said that the Foundation started its operations at a time when HIV/AIDS was a major concern and they took care of families infected and affected by the virus.
“We were involved with the Family Package project, which builds on PMTCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV) and takes a comprehensive approach to fighting the disease,” Mrs. Kagame said.
“Then we moved on to the youth. Here we started providing scholarships to brilliant yet disadvantaged children, as we were working on empowering girls, who excelled in primary and secondary school.”
The First Lady said the youth need more than formal education to achieve true success.
“We organised forums where we mentored students; influenced them to work on character formation - things that are not offered in a regular curriculum. We challenged our youth to learn how to set goals, how to live their lives based on Rwandan values while fitting in the global picture, and how to confidently express themselves,” Mrs. Kagame said.
She also talked about this month’s parliamentary elections, saying they portrayed the country’s steadiness in ensuring women participation in development.
“As you may know, just this month, Rwanda held its parliamentary elections. Women now hold 64 per cent of the seats, a steep increase from 18 per cent before 1994. We have more than doubled the 30 per cent constitutional requirement,” she said, adding that whilst the parliamentarians go about executing their work, Imbuto Foundation is playing its part to make this progress sustainable.
The meeting aimed at creating a platform for the First Ladies to foster collaborations and partnerships with some noteworthy corporations and foundations, where they each spoke about areas of focus of their respective philanthropic activities.
Meanwhile, during the United Nations General Assembly week in New York, Mrs. Kagame also attended luncheons hosted by American First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush.