Four Rwandan women were, on Thursday, honoured by the US Government for championing various activities that are beneficial to their communities and the nation.
During an event held at the US Ambassador’s residence in Kacyiru, the quartet was bestowed with the Women of Courage award by Erica J Barks-Ruggles, the US ambassador to Rwanda.
The awards are part of celebrations to mark the Women History Month.
The honourees; Chantal Ingabire, Jeanne Mwiriliza, Liberatha Mukasine and Xaverine Mukamunana, were selected from nominations submitted by US Embassy Kigali’s 20,000 Facebook fans.
Amb. Barks-Ruggles commended the four women for their courage, compassion, and determination which, she said, represents the very best of Rwanda.
“I am excited to work with you to create more opportunities for women and girls and to ensure that every girl has the chance to build her own future and use her talents to contribute toward the development of the country,” Barks-Ruggles said.
The awards, initiated this year by the US Embassy in Kigali, aim at recognising the inspiring women of Rwanda.
Mwiriliza, the founder of Tubahumurize, an association that seeks to empower female victims of violence through counselling, vocational training, and gender equality in education, said she was excited to receive the award.
“I passionately do my work but I had never expected to be noticed. I thank the team that selected our association,” Mwiriliza said.
The association, loosely translated to mean “let’s comfort them”, was founded in 2002 and it offers micro-finance opportunities for sustainable income-generating activities to female victims of violence.
Her excitement is shared by other recipients of the award.
Mukamunana is the founder of Jyamubandi Mwana association which helps underprivileged and disabled youth through educational assistance, vocational workshops, and family support.
She said that she didn’t expect to be selected from a pool of many Rwandan women that do extra- ordinary things.
“I am happy to have been selected from many inspiring women for this honour. I dedicate this award to all the people we work with as well as women who are impacting society in different ways,” said Mukamunana, whose association was founded in 2002.
Another winner, Ingabire, leads a team of more than 20 lawyers, investigators, and social workers at International Justice Mission dedicated to secure justice for Rwandan children who have suffered sexual assault.
Mukasine, on her part, overcame the loss of her husband and three children in 1994 to become a model cassava farmer in Ruhango District.
She now collaborates with the Rwandan Agriculture Board to test new kinds of cassava and improve local farmers’ crop yields.
Since 2007, the US State Department has presented International Women of Courage awards each year to inspiring women from around the world who have demonstrated exceptional courage, strength, and leadership in advocating for human rights, social justice, and women’s equality and advancement.