Eugenie Mushimiyimana is the president of the Chamber of Women at the Private Sector Federation (PSF) that was created in 2005 to help support women in finance, commerce, tourism, crafts, agribusiness, as well as liberal professions, through advocacy and capacity building. She spoke to Women Today’s Sharon Kantengwaabout the position of women in business today.
How is this chamber helping women?
As leaders with experience, we help others gain confidence so that they can go a step further. We advocate for them by addressing their challenges. For instance, there are laws that can be a hindrance to somebody’s business, but we come together to find solutions to such hindrances. We also help people do their jobs better because there are particular skills that one needs, so we try to train them so as to improve the standards. We cannot do business well without the necessary skills, like skills in regards to taxes and all other aspects connected to business.
I can say that there are women who have taken big strides in this and are on a good level, so they come and share ideas and experiences as motivation to others. This serves as a source of courage and confidence to others.
What are some of the challenges that women face in their line of business?
They are so many but most of them have solutions because we do this with the help of other partners. For instance in our culture, a woman is supposed to be in the kitchen, but all that has changed now, and women are able to do anything towards a family’s development, although all this requires everyone’s input. Also, limited funds are a challenge as most people resort to banks yet the banks’ high interest rates are a problem.
How can these challenges be addressed?
The responsibilities that come with family are so many that a man cannot handle them alone. Women should understand that they too can actually stand up and work for their families. I wish that the government could do something about easing access to loans for women.
Where do women in business stand now?
They are far more developed and I attribute this to our President for the effort that he has put into it, and of course campaigns like HeforShe. Such campaigns are not only helping women, but the country and other sectors at large. Women now play roles as big as men do, even bigger. Even though they aren’t at a good number, it’s still a great step and it gives us more reason to advocate for them because we believe that they can. Reports also indicate that the number of women receiving loans from the bank is steadily increasing which gives me the impression that women are working towards their dreams. Some still lack confidence in themselves, but through mentorship we shall achieve our dream.
Is it easy for women to balance career and family?
A woman at home is a woman at work; connecting and attending to both work and home duties are a hard task but anything can be done as long as you plan and prioritise well. Failing to accomplish both, I would say, is not being well organised, or having a proper schedule. Work and home duties cannot contradict each other but instead, complement each other.