Updated: Nov 9, 2018
In this year's Global Gender Gap Report, a study performed by The World Economic Forum, 142 countries around the world were ranked by the simple question: “Where is the best place in the world to be a woman?” This analysis was based on various economic, educational, health-based and political indicators.
Rwanda, a small country in Eastern Africa, was ranked as the 5th best place to be a woman. With this news spreading through the world, I was inspired to go straight to the source, asking Rwandan women from all walks of life, the following questions:
What makes Rwanda a great place for women?
What makes Rwandan women so strong?
What change would you like to see, to make the quality of life even better for women in Rwanda?
How can you help or advocate for women in your own community?
The responses I collected were as complex and different as each woman’s personality. Read below to see their inspiring and interesting thoughts on what it is like to live in Rwanda.
“Women need to remember that we are capable of doing anything. We just have to believe it. As a single mother, I didn’t believe I was capable of taking care of my children. But I learned through my hard work that I can accomplish anything. I just have to believe in myself and trust God."
- Cecile Nyiransabimana, 32, sells grocery bags made from scratch that are used in local markets. A single mother of two after he husband left in 2010, she has fought hard to become an entrepreneur and provider of her family.
"Women need to know their worth. I am trying to teach my neighbors how women, married or not, when treated as equals, can help support their community and families. Women love working, improving themselves and taking responsibility of their families just as much as men. "
- Nyiransabimana Feresiya, 29, manages and owns four small businesses with her husband. Working as a team, they own a barber shop, small corner store, a vegetable garden, as well as a wedding dress rental business.
"Here in Rwanda, we have good leaders who make it possible for us to develop ourselves and work in the community. We as women believe that we can accomplish things because our people believe in us."
- Ahishaklye Florence, 23, was an orphan from the age of 14. After years of surviving in and out shelters and people's homes, she joined a savings group within her local church. She now owns her own shop, rents a home for herself, and has big dreams for the future.
"When I was young, women
were not treated well and were not allowed to do a lot of things that men did. Many times we would prepare food for the men, but were never able to eat what we had worked so hard to make."
- Nyirabusimba Zaberea, 80, a respected elder in the rural community of Kimaba, which sits at just over 8,000 feet in elevation, overlooking the Nyungwe Forest in Southern Rwanda.
"Many women living in these rural areas don’t understand what gender equality is, because traditionally, women stay at home. But Rwandan women are now learning they have an opportunity to help in the development of our country."
- Nyirabukima Francine, 45, owns four homes, which she rents out to small local businesses. She uses this extra income to save for her children's future. Her husband and five boys are very proud of her.
"I tell other young women about
what I have achieved as a single woman.
I tell them about my success and some start to believe they can do the same.
We all need to give this kind of encouragement."
- Nyibanama Anasiyata, 34, leads single women in her community to work together and support one another.
"Yes, I would agree that women in Rwanda are treated equally. There is nothing my husband does, that I cannot. We work together in our business."
- Yabarayiye Beransira , 28, prides herself in serving her community. As President of the local Mothers Union, she assists single mothers by letting them take care of her animals. Having a cow at home can help ease the labor of farming, as well as feed the family with fresh milk.
"I really hope women in rural areas of Rwanda can understand they are equal. I believe if they join a savings group they will learn about equality and begin to develop. Learning as a group, gives them all a chance to support each other."
- Mushimiyimana Serophine, 15, attends secondary school and sings in her Church's choir.
To read more on the study, visit a great article by Atlas and Boots below, or download the official Global Gender Gap Report.