Oda Gasinzigwa is the Chief Gender Monitoring Officer—a position she has held since 2008.Three years down the road, she has been a champion for change in the struggle for women empowerment in Rwanda.
When the ‘family Vs career’ question was asked, she said:
“It’s interesting that I’m asked this question because I’m doing research on ‘Traditional Gender Roles, and its impact and barriers to women in leadership positions.
And, I know this is a challenge since women usually face conflicting loyalty when it comes to balancing family and career.”
Gasinzigwa is a mother with four sons. She got married in 1992, and attributes her success story to the support of her family, government and the will to change several things in life.
She was born on August 1st, 1966 and is the second child in a family of eight. She attained her Bachelor’s Degree in Local Government Administration from the Institute of Development Management in Ruzube, Tanzania.
She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Gender and Development at Kigali Institute of Education.
“It’s challenging and interesting to balance work and family, not only as a mother but also as a wife. Women need to find time for everything,” Gasinzigwa explains.
She further adds that women need to have clear minds and know what they want in life. In this way, they can always be involved in their family no matter what they do.
“Having an understanding family has helped to improve my career. I get support from my core family (Husband and children) and a lot of encouragement from my extended family especially, from following the example of my late mother, and that’s why everything is possible.
We must remember that even the greatest career, in the absence of family support, can be challenging,” explained Gasinzigwa.
Being a successful career woman has not hindered Gasinzigwa from being a great mother and wife.
“As a mother, after work, I have to cross-check to see if everything is in order at home, and sometimes it requires that I do some extra household work.
It’s also important to consider your co-workers as a family, to make sure that you all work as a team,” says Gasinzigwa.
By interacting with, and following the example of women role models, especially those who have been successful in their careers as well as families, she is encouraged to perform better.
At 45 years, Gasinzigwa is joyful and eloquent—characters that have pushed her up her career. Her expertise in dealing with gender challenges is commendable.
In 2001, she was elected as Secretary of the National Women Council at Cell level. With her never-ending desire to advocate for women, she was in 2004 elected as the Chairperson of the National Women council.
“During my four years as a secretary for the National Women Council at the Cell level, I participated in different meetings that mobilized and involved women in various tasks.
This instilled confidence in me that enabled me to handle my current post as the Chief Gender Monitoring Officer, which was quite challenging since it’s the first of its kind in this region,” Gasinzigwa said.
Nevertheless, she hopes she is a role model to all young women. She is thankful that when it comes to gender equality, Rwanda is on the right track.
She is impressed at how Rwandans are embracing equal rights for women—something that was lacking a few years ago.
She said: “Can you imagine that women could not open up bank accounts in the past? Thankfully, that has now changed and they are involved in decision making processes across the country and this is lifting them up.
The good laws and mechanism that are in place have really helped in gender sensitive issues.”
Since Gender Based Violence (GBV) is on Rwanda’s agenda this week, as part of the family month (October), Gasinzigwa says the Gender Monitoring Office is involved in the fight against this social vice.
“I think we need to look first at the causes of GBV so as to do away with it. Most cases of GBV have different reasons; and we have not discovered a common cause. But it’s all about misunderstandings and intolerable situations especially within families,” Gasinzigwa said.
Gasinzigwa is one among several champions of women emancipation in Rwanda, who have used their knowledge and skills to improve the lives of Rwanda’s women.
Today Rwanda is ranked on top of the world for having the highest number of women in parliament and decision making processes at a percentage of 56.3 percent.
Dish:-Matooke and beans