U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda Erica J. Barks-Ruggles honored four Rwandan women today at an event held at her home to celebrate Women’s History Month. The women, selected from nominations submitted by U.S. Embassy Kigali’s 20,000 Facebook fans, were recognized with the Embassy’s first-ever Rwandan Women of Courage awards for their exceptional service and leadership. “The courage, compassion, and determination of these four women represent the very best of Rwanda,” Ambassador Barks-Ruggles told representatives from the government, business, and NGO sectors who attended the reception. “I am excited to work together with all of you over the course of my three years here to create even more opportunities for women and girls and to ensure that every girl has the chance to build her own future – and to use her talents to build a bright future for Rwanda as well.”
Since 2007, the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC, 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. This year, the U.S. Embassy in Kigali decided to create an award that would specifically recognize the inspiring women of Rwanda.
The four winners of the Embassy’s 2015 Women of Courage award are:
- Chantal Ingabire, who leads a team of more than twenty lawyers, investigators, and social workers at International Justice Mission to secure justice for Rwandan children who have suffered sexual assault.
- Jeanne Mwiriliza, the founder of Tubahumurize Association, which seeks to empower female victims of violence through trauma counseling, vocational training, gender equality education, and microfinance opportunities for sustainable, income-generating activities.
- Liberatha Mukasine, who overcame the loss of her husband and three children in 1994 to become a successful cassava farmer in Ruhango district, where she now collaborates with the Rwandan Agriculture Board to test new kinds of cassava and improve local farmers’ crop yields.
- Xaverine Mukamunana, the founder of Jyamubandimwana Association, which helps underprivileged and disabled youth through educational assistance, vocational workshops, and family support.