Coverage: Executive Director in Rwanda
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka travelled to Rwanda to participate in the Transform Africa Summit (10 – 12 May), which has become a landmark forum on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the continent, gathering around 4,000 participants annually.
On the last day of her mission in Kigali, Executive Director Phumzile Mambo-Ngcuka attended the Smart Africa Women’s Summit led by the First Lady of the Republic of Rwanda, Mrs. Jeanette Kagame and other African first ladies, as well as leaders from the private sector, civil society and the academia. The Summit aims to highlight the strategic interventions that are being pursued to empower women and girls in ICT.
At the opening of the Summit, the Executive Director screened a short Ethiopian film, Alem, showing the effect and burden of care work on girls and women and the importance of giving equal opportunities to both boys and girls. In her remarks, she acknowledged the importance of ICT as a critical catalyst in socio-economic development and called for actions to ensure online safety for women and girls. “When we focus on creating Smart Africa, it has to be about creating a safe Africa for women and girls,” said Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka.
The Summit concluded by awarding the winner of Miss Geek Africa, an inaugural competition designed to inspire African girls to pursue careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields and to use technology to solve the continent’s challenges.
After the official closing ceremony, the Executive Director had a bilateral meeting with Mr. Paul Kagame, the President of the Republic of Rwanda, as well as Mr. Belay Begashaw, the Director General of the Sustainable Development Goals Centre for Africa. Later that day, she also joined the heads of UN Agencies in laying a wreath of flowers in remembrance of all UN staff who lost their lives during the genocide, and met the representatives of UN Country Teams, the Resident Coordinator and UN Women staff.
The Executive Director concluded her mission with a meeting with Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo. They discussed strategies for achieving gender parity by 2030 and fulfilling President Kagame’s HeForShe IMPACT commitments, particularly the goal of tripling girls’ enrollment in technical and vocational training to advance women’s employment opportunities.
The Executive Director began her third day in Rwanda by hosting a breakfast meeting with development partners and international financial institutions at the Marriott Hotel in Kigali. These included ambassadors and representatives from Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium and Japan, as well as World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Finance Corporation (IFC), Swiss Cooperation and UK Department for International Development (DFID).
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka thanked the development partners for their commitment to the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Rwanda and urged them to continue supporting UN Women and the government to ensure that women move up the value chain.
The Executive Director later participated in the Leaders’ Summit on Fast Tracking Africa’s Digital Transformation, a high-level conversation with Heads of State, leaders of international organizations and the ICT business community on how Africa can use ICT to accelerate its socio-economic transformation and deliver wealth and prosperity for its citizens.
The Executive Director also had a meeting with the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, and other key partners. including representatives from various ministries, civil society organizations, private sector, civil society and the police among others.
The Executive Director commended the good collaboration between UN Women Rwanda and the partners in attendance, especially the Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, noting that “the family is the most critical unit for sustainable development.”
In conclusion, the Executive Director called for continued partnership with all stakeholders to ensure Rwanda achieves gender parity by 2030.
The Executive Director began her second day of her visit to Rwanda by attending the official opening ceremony of the third edition of the Transform Africa Summit, led by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, at the Kigali Convention Centre.
In her remarks during a panel discussion at the opening ceremony, the Executive Director commended President Kagame for being among the 10 Heads of State who are HeForShe champions and living up to his commitment of bridging the gender digital divide and attaining parity in ICT access.
The Executive Director also visited Rwanda’s Isange One Stop Center, a holistic model for supporting victims of gender-based violence and child abuse. So far, 44 similar centers have been established in various districts in Rwanda. The model, supported by One UN through UN Women with financial support from the Netherlands Embassy to Rwanda, is being implemented through the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion as the government coordinating institution, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice for Legal Assistance and Rwanda national police for not only investigations but also as an institution which was in the pilot phase (2009-2012).
Later in the day, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka met with the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Mukabalisa Donatille, who was accompanied by other parliamentarians and members of various standing committees responsible for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The Executive Director held bilateral meetings with the CEO of of ECONET, a privately held diversified telecommunications group with operations and investments offering products and services in the core areas of mobile and fixed telephony services, broadband, internet, satellite and fibre optic networks globally, and the President of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Emeritus Jared Cohon. The Executive Director also had an opportunity to meet Lynn Kirabo, a young Software Engineer and Data enthusiast, who is a CMU Alumni and former UN Women Scholarship recipient.
On her first day in Rwanda, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka visited the Coopcuma Framer’s Cooperative in Gatsibo District in the Eastern Province of Rwanda, to learn more about the innovative “Buy From Women” platform. The platform is a mobile-enabled supply chain that connects women farmers to information, finance and markets.
The Executive Director was accompanied by Rwanda’s Minister of Gender and Family Promotion Esperance Nyirasafari, Vice Mayor in charge of Economic and Development Affairs of Gatsibo District Manzi Theogene and UN Women’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa as well as Country Representatives for Rwanda, Malawi and South Africa.
During her visit, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka acknowledged the government and people of Rwanda for ensuring strong women's representation in the government as well corporate leadership to ensure an economy that works for the people.
“Today, we celebrate the importance of creating an economy that works for people, a cooperative in agriculture that addresses hunger, nutrition and generates income for the people who are living in this part of the country. It is only when we can join these efforts across the villages, across the regions, across continents, across the world, that we can truly say, we are creating an inclusive economy, and an economy that works for people,” Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
The Executive Director also stopped by the Nyagatovu Early Childhood Development and Family Centre — a prototype model for community based services that promotes the holistic development of children aged between 3 to 6 years — started by the Imbuto Foundation and UNICEF, as part of One UN in Rwanda.