Rwandan young women acquire practical leadership skills through ‘Girls Take Over’ Initiative

In celebration of the International Women’s Day, UN Women in Rwanda has offered 25 Rwandan girls an opportunity to meet and share experiences with women and men leaders in various spheres including Diplomacy, the UN, Business, Finance, Sports, Science, Engineering, and others through the “Girls Take Over’’ Initiative launched on March 20th this year.

The “Girls Take Over” Initiative aimed at providing a shadowing experience to young women in Rwanda by offering them role models in the field of their career choice, helping them realize their potential, build their capacities and strive to make their dreams true.

Girls who benefited from the initiative were selected among students from Gashora Girls Academy, Akilah Institute for Women, FAWE Girls School and the Rwandan Organization of Women with Disabilities (UNABU). The young women acquired insightful career advice and first-hand experience from leaders in different Rwandan and international organizations.
The young women were received in by the Heads of the following Institutions; UN Women, the Embassies of Kenya, Congo, Netherlands and Germany to Rwanda, The Swiss Development Cooperation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation, the UN Resident Coordinator and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), Bank of Kigali and BK Capital, Ecobank, the Commercial Bank of Africa, SONARWA Life, Volkswagen Rwanda, AC GROUP, Rwandair, Engen Ltd, the Kanombe Military Hospital and the Rwanda National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSR).

They were taken through the operations of the institutions, daily work challenges and how they are addressed and discussed with their mentors their journeys to success and lessons they learnt from them.

Brigitte Musabwasoni is a young woman, living with disabilities and a player at Rubavu Sitting Volleyball Club. She was received by the Vice President of Rwanda National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSR), Ms. Felicite Rwemarika.

“I talked with her (Rwemarika) a lot about women sport development and Paralympic sports in particular. I told her about my projects and dreams to play for the national team. She advised me to never give up because she also faced obstacles as she was pursuing her dream career but she kept up with her journey until she reached her goals,” Brigitte Musabwasoni said, “I am going back home a new person and with a new friend, Felicite”.

The various leaders who received these young women said this was a golden opportunity to share their experiences, a chance they hoped they would have gotten when they were starting their career. They were also impressed by the challenging questions they were asked by the young women and indicated it had been an eye-opener for them as well.
Dr. Claire Karekezi, the first Rwandan female neurosurgeon, received Blandine Ineza at Kanombe Military Hospital. Ineza finished her secondary studies at Groupe Scolaire de Butare in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology (PCB) Option last year and wants to become a cardio-thoracic surgeon.

“The young woman I received dreams of becoming a surgeon. It is a great dream and as a female neurosurgeon, I made that she knows that it is possible. The way ahead of her is not quite easy but it is possible if we work together,” Dr. Claire Karekezi said.

The UN Women Representative in Rwanda, Fatou A. Lo said that the ‘Girls Take Over’ Initiative created a platform of intergenerational dialogue for young women to be mentored but also to share key insights on how they view the field and what could be improved because as she stated “these young women are not only the future, they are actually the present.”

“Hearing messages from these girls has been tremendously inspiring. The girls were not only very well prepared and they asked very relevant and tough questions but they also inspired us. They brought energy, great insights and they reminded us that we have all been there in their shoes.”

Going forward, through the initiative, UN Women Rwanda intends to reach those who are left farthest behind including the school dropouts, young women who do not have access to existing opportunities and those who may not be in leading educational institutions.

The “Girls Take Over” Initiative is a continuation of the various mentorship and career guidance activities such as the “Speed Mentoring” organized as part of the 2018 edition of Youth Connekt Africa Summit, where UN Women held mentoring sessions with 150 youth and leaders from various sectors, as well as the Mentoring Moments launched by the Career Women’s Network in Kigali.

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