Top Rwandan women achievers in 2013

Last week we took a look at some of the women and groups that made a difference in women empowerment. This week, Women Today’s Doreen Umutesi looks at specific women who soared in 2013.
Amb. Valentine Rugwabiza
Amb. Valentine Rugwabiza

Last week we took a look at some of the women and groups that made a difference in women empowerment. This week, Women Today’s Doreen Umutesi looks at specific women who soared in 2013.

Violette Uwamutara


Violette Uwamutara, the Country Director of Digital Opportunity Trust (Dot), was awarded by the Anita Borg Institute (ABIE), a US-based organisation committed to promoting women in ICT, during the 2013 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.


She was recognised for being a leading role model who is advancing the participation of Rwandan women in technology and introducing them to new opportunities and careers in the field of technology and entrepreneurship.


Dot Rwanda has impacted more than 30,000 youth (50 per cent women) in remote areas, by introducing them to the potential of technology to drive new opportunities.


Julian Ingabire Kayibanda

Julian Ingabire Kayibanda is the chief operations officer of SHE Rwanda. She was awarded the 2013 Grinnell Prize—a $100,000 award presented to young innovators in social justice and leaders who use an innovative business model to support women’s economic development in Africa.

SHE is increasing women’s access to affordable menstrual products by manufacturing low-cost maxi pads using local agro-waste, primarily in Rwanda.

Ingabire was also included on a list of 30 List of 30 Daring Ideas Shaking Up Africa by The Africa Report.


Ambassador Valentine Sendanyoye Rugwabiza 

The Cabinet on October 9, 2013, appointed Valentine Sendanyoye Rugwabiza as the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and a cabinet minister. 

Prior to that, she was a deputy director general of the World Trade Organisation. 

Preciously Rugwabiza had also served as Rwanda’s envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. She is also the founder of the Rwandan Association of Women Entrepreneurs.

In May 2013, Jeune Afrique magazine named Rugwabiza among the 25 most influential women in business on the African continent.


Marie-Louise Uwizeye 

Marie-Louise Uwizeye, propriator of Intego newspaper was voted the Rwandan journalist of the year 2013 . For that, she recieved Rwf4million.

Judges said she was worthy of the reward after making an over 10 year’s journey as one of the few female journalists in an industry which is dominated by men.


Miss Rwanda, Aurore Mutesi Kayibanda 

Reigning Miss Rwanda, Aurore Mutesi Kayibanda, was crowned Miss Pan Africa Music Festival (FESPAM) during the FESPAM event held in Congo Brazzaville in July 2013. 

She is to hold on to the Miss Pan Africa Music Festival crown till 2015 because the Music Festival which promotes African and Diaspora music is held every two years. 


Esther Mbabazi

Esther Mbabazi made history as Rwanda’s first female pilot at the age of 24. 

According to the article published in titled “Rwanda’s first female pilot takes to the skies at 24”, Mbabazi said: “Being a pilot really was my childhood dream; I don’t think anything was going to stop it. It started when I travelled with my family and we would get the free things for kids, like the backpacks.” 

During the interview she also revealed that the death of her father influenced the way she flies.

“It has moulded my character as a pilot, and I think what happened to my dad makes me a little more safe. It could have stopped me, but an accident is an accident. If someone is knocked over in a car you don’t stop driving. As a pastor’s child I know that you have to let stuff go” Mbabazi explained. 

She trained at the Soroti Flight School in Uganda before being sponsored to continue her training in Florida by national carrier RwandAir. 

She now flies the company’s CRJ-900 regional jets across Africa.

The 24-year-old also received a 2013 DIVA Award for inspiring Rwandan girls. 


Gloriose Isugi and Noella Nbihogo

Gloriose Isugi and Noella Nbihogo, of the Global Press Institute (GPI) Rwanda News Desk, won the 2013 Ulrich Wickert Award for Child Rights in the international category for their article “Sugar Daddies Prey on Female Students Headed Home for Holiday in Rwanda”. The article detailed the ways in which young Rwandan schoolgirls become susceptible to predatory, older men who offer rides and gifts in exchange for sexual favours.

The winning article was selected from applications from fourteen countries and recognised for its journalistic prowess by a jury composed of prominent German broadcasters and journalists.

The Ulrich Wickert Award for Child Rights is awarded by Plan International Germany. Plan International is one of the oldest child-centred community organisations in the world.


Yvette Shumbusho

Yvette Shumbusho was crowned Miss United States International University, (USIU, Kenya) 2013. The beauty queen was born in 1993 in Nairobi, Kenya. She returned home in 1995, when she was only two years old. In 2001, she moved to South Africa and  in 2004 moved to Ethiopia with her younger brother. The following year, she traveled back to Kenya with her brother and joined Green State School in Nakuru, where her elder brother later joined them. 

She then came back to Rwanda in 2008 where she did the last three years of her secondary school at Green Hills Academy, graduating in 2011. In 2012, she went back to Kenya and joined USIU, Kenya. She was crowned Miss USIU in November this year.

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