Leaders should take time off their busy schedules to build stability in their families as this will help shape a resilient foundation for society.
That was the message from First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, to female leaders, as she officiated the 3rd retreat of the Unity Club yesterday.
Unity Club is the association that brings together current and former members of the executive and their spouses.
Mrs Kagame told Unity Club members that being leaders puts them in the position of being role models, which is why they have to be exemplary, not only in public, but also in their families.
As leaders, she said, they have a responsibility of building a strong foundation for Rwandan families.
“Make time for your families because that mirrors who you are and the legacy you want to pass on. Family is the first part of your many responsibilities as leaders,” she said.
The Minister for Local Government, Anastase Shyaka, said that gender-based and domestic violence, teenage pregnancies and drug abuse are some of the persistent challenges for families in Rwanda.
Shyaka noted that these negative elements are brought about by the fact that traditional family values have been eroded by modern trends.
He noted that there is need to instil some traditional values in the young generation.
Shyaka explained that there was a false mindset that traditional practices were all bad, yet some of them were concrete foundations for strong family values.
The one-day retreat was conducted in two parts, with the first session taking place at Intare Conference Arena, and the second at the Parliament.
The second part of the retreat was attended by only female leaders, including female MPs,with the exception of the Minister for Local Government.
The Speaker of the Lower Chamber of Deputies, Donatile Mukabalisa, noted that the parliament has enacted several progressive laws to deal with drug abuse and teenage pregnancies.
However, she explained, special intervention by leaders will be key in addressing some of those challenges.
“Laws have been enacted but some challenges require special intervention if we are to build a resilient and better society for our children and future generations,” Mukabalisa said, “we won’t even deliver on our responsibilities as leaders if we don’t have sound families.”
MP Médiatrice Izabiriza said that, much as the discussion was timely and important for women, there was need to engage male leaders in similar conversations.
Chief Gender Monitor, Rose Rwabuhihi, in her intervention, urged the leaders to always dine and engage with their children, saying it’s important for strengthening their families.
“Being a leader doesn’t take away your role as a parent,” Rwabuhihi said.