Rwandan Women Retreat in Washington, D.C. Maryland and Virginia

Rwandan women from the District of Colombia, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) held a retreat at the Radisson Hotel in Rockville, Maryland. “The 2015 Rwandan Women Retreat” centered on several subjects of interest including women in leadership, empowerment, Africa’s Agenda 2063, social services, and the importance of faith.

Her Excellency Professor Mathilda Mukantabana, the Ambassador of Rwanda, was the keynote speaker at the event, which drew a number of women from the entire DMV area. Professor Mukantabana’s talk focused on women in leadership and underscored Rwanda’s achievements through good governance. She emphasized women’s involvement in all sectors serve to contribute greatly to Rwanda’s rapid development. She further stressed the need for women to gather and dialogue as a means to update each other on the progress made in the country, as well as share new ideas.

“Women surpassed the 30 percent quota formally set by the Rwandan constitution and now they occupy 63.8 percent of all seats in parliament,” said Professor Mukantabana. “Rwanda is number one in the world when it comes to women’s representation. Women are not only the key to Rwanda’s development and Africa’s development, but they are the key to the world’s development.”

The retreat attracted many Rwandan women leaders representing a variety of professions. All attending vigorously shared their experiences and sought eagerly to learn more from each other.  One example included women’s empowerment and development in line with Africa’s Agenda 2063. Josepha Musabyemariya, a Rwandan woman who works for the African Union (AU), presented information on this vision and action plan for Africa. Mrs. Musabyemariya, speaking as a Rwandan national, gave vital information about women’s health, education, peace and security, agriculture, and economic development. She stressed the need for access to financial loans to grow business and showcased Ethiopia’s creation of a women’s bank, which helps women to gain access to credit and financial tools designed to boost business activities.

Dr. Nicky Mordi, a faith leader from Tanzania, talked about Exhortation-Why Thanksgiving” which delved into a variety of poignant Bible verses and the power of putting God first in all that you do.  She reminded everyone how Rwanda has developed itself greatly 21 years following genocide.

Ms. Tonja McCoy, who works for Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation, spoke about job recruitment procedures in different fields, community service, women’s entrepreneurship, and business opportunities in the DMV area.

Ms. Diana Bisengo, a Rwandan young adult, shared her life and education experience growing up in the U.S. She encouraged women students to work hard and realize their potential.

Ms. Jane Wibabara, also from Rwanda, presented information on her initiative that helps orphans. Her work highlighted the value and the importance of Rwandan people working in an area that remains a critical challenge for the country.

Rose Rutagarama, also from Rwanda, told those attending to let go of the past and to embrace their future. She presented on the importance of forgiveness, not only for others, but of one’s self as well.

Antonette Kanyabutembo, DMV Gender Commissionaire, who organized the event, said this year’s event continues to show the importance of bringing together Rwandan women currently living and working outside of the country.  Ms. Kanyabutembo called upon the continued support of women’s events and youth activities in the DMV area. As a result of the retreat, those attending agreed on many of the lessons learned and unanimously said the creation of a women’s bank was vital to the continued rapid development of the country.