Connected Career Women Series

When Women Come Together: Career Women’s Network Kigali (CWNK) Two-Year Anniversary Celebration

Generally, when women come together in social settings, they share stories, give each other advice and offer each other encouragement. Many women rely on their female networks for emotional support and counsel. Perhaps, the value of these support systems has not been emphasized enough and prioritized for professional development, even though other women are dependable sources of mentorship and career guidance for women at different levels in their careers. Professional women's networks play a critical role in connecting and empowering women to reach their career goals.

On June 19th, Career Women’s Network Kigali hosted an event in celebration of its 2nd anniversary at the KCC, with the theme: “The Story of Us”; a tribute to the progress that women have made as a collective, and to shared experiences that connect women from different ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds.

The theme was also captured artistically through the poetic stylings of Angell Mutoni, with the enchanting sound of the inanga played by Sophie Nzayisenga. Drumming and dance performances from all-female drummers were also part of the night’s entertainment. 

During the celebration, guest speaker Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) shared her personal career journey with the attendees.

  • Clare Akamanzi, CEO of Rwanda Development Board, shares her personal career journey

As a public figure and senior government official in Rwanda, Clare Akamanzi is admired by many women but not many know that her career began as an intern working for the Rwandan Embassy in Geneva, Switzerland, where at a young age she was handed a stately responsibility which she did not shy away from.

As a young lady she was ambitious, driven, and always gave her the utmost focus to the task at hand. Unsurprisingly, she was entrusted with some of the government’s biggest trade and investment portfolios, proving her worth, and paving the way to her current position heading the Rwanda Development Board. 

Similarly, Josephine Nyiranzeyimana, Chief Information Officer at RISA (Rwanda Information Society), made a clear point of how she achieved her career goals by overcoming the stereotypes about women in STEM by believing that she could not only compete with her male counterparts at school, but that she could excel in the field.

She leaned on the support of fellow female students during her male-dominated program in university, and found the motivation and encouragement she needed to follow her dreams. Currently, she holds one of the top STEM positions in Rwanda, which is phenomenal and attests to the progress that Rwanda is making in gender equality. 

  • Sophie Nzayisenga and Angell Mutoni performing with an all-female drumming accompaniment

Along with the inspirational talks from the guest speakers, the audience was led through beautiful affirmations: I am confident, I am bold, I am fearless.

Affirmations have the power to transform the negative internal dialogue that many women struggle with.

According to the testimony of Dr. Diane Karusisi, CEO of Bank of Kigali, in the CWNK documentary film, women in middle management positions are often highly capable, but lack confidence in their own capabilities to take on more senior roles.

For many women, taking the next step may be daunting – which is where a community of career women who can support each other comes in, to provide women with the opportunities they need to climb the career ladder. 

The evening capped off with a networking session and of course, the ladies seized the opportunity to take pictures with Clare Akamanzi. 

The celebrations were an example of the positive power of female peer support, and what can be achieved when women come together for a common purpose.

“The Story of Us” is still being written, and it will take collective action to overcome some of the barriers that still hold women back.

About the Author

Margaret Mandeya is a writer and a communications enthusiast based in Kigali. She is passionate about telling stories that celebrate and inspire other women to be confident and unapologetically authentic.

Want to join a tribe of successful women who have your back? Contact the Career Women’s Network Kigali: info@careerwomensnetwork-kigali.com and +250783719431

{Featured image: David Hartman}

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