Gender equality and women’s empowerment are one of the fundamental principles of the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth priorities for Gender Equality 2017-2020 and beyond were endorsed by Women’s Affairs Ministers at their 11th meeting, hosted by the Government of Samoa in September 2016.
They provide a template for action for the four years and beyond, and contribute to building a solid foundation for the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Commonwealth, and further reflect commitment to ensure that women and girls are regarded as equal partners with men and boys in shaping a common future.
In an article published in this paper, Omar Daair, the British High Commissioner to Rwanda wrote “As Chair-in-Office since CHOGM in London in 2018, the UK has worked with Commonwealth partners to create a fairer future by supporting women’s empowerment through trade initiatives. By 2021, the SheTrades Commonwealth programme had generated over £32m in sales for Women Owned Businesses in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Bangladesh.”
As CHOGM is set to take place in Rwanda from June 20 to 26, The New Times talked to a cross-section of women entrepreneurs, who expressed their readiness to tap into the conference’s opportunities.
Joy Murekatete, Founder and CEO of Jotete Investment ltd, said there are a lot of opportunities in CHOGM, especially in hospitality and horticulture, a sector in which her company operates.
Her firm offers decor, interior design, floral and fashion services in Rwanda, but also exports flowers.
In line with CHOGM, Murekatete plans to showcase her Made in Rwanda products for attendees to access them.
“I have already received a notification from the Women’s Chamber and I am looking forward to attending CHOGM,” she said.
She urged other local women entrepreneurs to network during the conference, since many people who will be attending have a lot to share, “They should also aim at positioning themselves for the international market.”
Pacifique Mpinganzima, CEO of Impinga Fashion ltd, that makes Made in Rwanda footwear and clothing, is aware of the big opportunities that are coming with CHOGM.
Though she hasn’t secured a stand yet, she hopes to be able to in order to be able to showcase her innovative and high quality products that she hopes to sell.
Networking and opportunities
Amina Umuhoza, CEO of SAYE Company that owns SAYE Home Decor is also looking forward to attending CHOGM through a network of youth entrepreneurs.
She said she is getting ready to produce as many products as possible in order to target the anticipated increase in demand for local services, especially those in the hospitality sector.
“Participants will be moving around the country, looking for beautiful products to take back home. We usually produce many items for local people but since many CHOGM attendees will need souvenirs related to the Rwandan culture, we will produce some decorations that have messages that can remind them about Rwanda,” she said.
Annick Umutibagirana, CEO of Holly Trust Ltd (KASO) encourages women to be aware of CHOGM opportunities and look out for relevant information that is crucial for their businesses.
“Network and get involved, that’s the best way to get informed regarding issues such as global challenges and updates, as well as interacting with diversified people,” she said.
Her company makes branding materials such as business cards, banners, T-shirts and flyers that she looks forward to peddling during the conference.
She also looks forward to connecting with fellow attendees and building a strong network.
Aline Ikuzwe, Managing Director of Skymile Travel Agency said that CHOGM comes with a great chance for them to get customers who can buy air tickets through their agency, adding that the attendees will also need to tour the country, and her company is ready to provide any desired services.
“We are finding cars and are in touch with people managing touristic places, for us to be alert for the services that will be in demand.”