How a group of female swimmers are fighting GBV

Rosalie Uwmabijimana is the chairperson of the 1000 Kilos Women club. /Courtesy photo

1000 Kilos Women club is a group of women who joined hands to fight obesity through swimming. Besides swimming, they will today have a walk in solidarity to fight GBV. Rosalie Uwmabijimana, the chairperson of the club, talked Women Today’sSharon Kantengwa about the club and its impact.

Tell us about 1000 Kilos Women club

It is a club that empowers women through swimming as a sport. We do aqua medicine and train elite swimmers for international competitions, as well as social activities to help women reduce weight through swimming and nutrition, since most of them are obese.

We also have some social activities like picnics so it’s more like a family.

Swimmers in a pool in Kigali. The club empowers women through swimming as a sport. Net photo

The inspiration behind this club was to reduce weight for obese women and for body fitness. There are women who wanted to swim but needed motivation, but the turn up in the beginning was low so we involved men too.

How did the club start?

It started in 2014 but it was inactive, we became more active this year. Although it was founded by women we also involve men and even children. We began by using the Hilltop swimming pool for our activities but we have gone on to partner with La Palisse, Nyandungu and Gashora who give us their pools.

Some of the people who joined us were recommended to do swimming so we have expert coaches who are physiotherapists and doctors so they train them. Professionals from the International Federation of Swimming (FINA), also come in to train our elite swimmers so that they can compete with others internationally. We currently have 104 members, 69 are female.

You will have a walk to create awareness on GBV. Tell us about it?

We have some members who are survivors of gender-based violence and so we thought about the event ‘1 Billion Rising in Solidarity’, an international event and movement where one billion people are rising to address that issue and how we can be part of it.

It started in 1998 by a GBV survivor who inspired other women, but we launched it in 2014.  She started the movement on Valentine’s Day so that on a day of love such as this, GBV survivors can also feel loved, encouraged and have a sense of solidarity. This is the second time that it is happening as we held the first event in 2014.

What are some of the activities that you will be doing today?

We will have a walk from Centre Umushumba Mwiza to La Pallise. Through this, we are creating awareness about GBV because although our Government has tried to fight GBV, we still have some gaps like domestic and sexual violence and child marriages. These are what we are trying to address. At La Palisse we will have a swimming competition with 54 competitors of which 75 per cent are female.

What are some of your future plans for this club?

Our objective is to look for ways to encourage women to swim because our culture doesn’t make it easy, since it is public. We are also trying to find a swimming pool where women can swim alone, and we are trying to emphasise education because we have members who are doctors, nurses and midwives who help us with health education, like nutrition and reproductive health.