The U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda, Peter Vrooman, honored three Rwandan women today with the 2019 Rwandan Women of Courage award at an event at his home in celebration of Women’s History Month. The three women — Christine Ashimwe, Dative Nakabonye, and Christine Mukeshimana — were selected from more than 2,000 nominations submitted by members of the community and followers of the U.S. Embassy Facebook page.
The three women were recognized with the U.S. Embassy’s fifth annual Rwandan Women of Courage award for their exceptional service and leadership. Since 2007, the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. has presented the International Women of Courage award 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. The U.S. Embassy in Kigali launched the Rwandan Women of Courage award in 2015 to recognize inspiring women here in Rwanda.
Dative Nakabonye is the director and founder of “Family Circle Love Lab Organization” (FCLLO), a Rwandan NGO that offers compassion and innovation to vulnerable groups. Dative and her organization support women from rural areas who are victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence to overcome trauma and become empowered. Dative is well-known through her organization, which has become a valuable learning ground for students, interns, and researchers from different countries. She holds an Advanced Diploma in Mental Health Nursing, a Bachelor’s degree in Peacebuilding and Development, and a Master’s degree in Development Studies. She is also a member of National Forum Against Domestic Violence (NFADV). Dative lives by a commitment to the belief that “supporting a woman is supporting the entire community.”
Christine Mukeshimana is a mother of two children with a passion for working with vulnerable women and children. In 2009, Christine struggled to find resources and answers to her questions, so she founded a community centre entitled Help for Disabled and Vulnerable Children (HDVC). Since then, many families have benefited from her organization and leadership of the centre. Christine is also an active member of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) and Organization des Medecins du Sport (ORDEMES). Christine has earned Bachelor’s degrees in Physiotherapy and Social Sciences.
In the first four years of the program, 13 women of courage have been recognized by the U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda. They include last year’s awardees: Leonne Laura Uwizihiwe, teacher and advocate for gender equality; Vanessa Bahati, founder of the Jordan Foundation; and Esperence Gasore, nurse and founder of Rwanda Children.
The 2017 awardees were Chantal Munanayire, CEO of QUICK & C LTD; Ketia C. Kabanyana, president of Dorcas Consolation Family; and Jeanne Francoise Gakire, laboratory agent at Cyakabiri Medical Centre in Muhanga.
In 2016, the awards were presented to Agnes Twagiramaliya, a teacher in Nyamagabe; Ms. Zulfat Mukarubega, founder of the University of Tourism, Technology and Business Studies (former RTUC); and Jeanne d’Arc Girubuntu, the only woman on Rwanda’s national cycling team.
The first women to earn the recognition in 2015 were Chantal Ingabire, leader of more than twenty lawyers, investigators, and social workers at International Justice Mission; Jeanne Mwiriliza, founder of Tubahumurize Association; Liberatha Mukasine, who overcame the loss of her husband and three children in 1994 to become a successful cassava farmer in Ruhango district; and Xaverine Mukamunana, founder of Jyamubandimwana Association.
The U.S. Embassy congratulates these women of courage, past and present, on their great work and commitment to serve the community.
PHOTO CREDIT: US Embassy in Rwanda