8th March 2018 is a day that the world stops to celebrate “international women’s day’, a day when women are the focal point and attempts to highlight their social, economic, cultural and political achievements. To half of the world’s population, each day is actually women’s day but to the other half, this can mathematically mean one day for women and then men can have the remaining 364 days of the year. The latter is absent or insignificant in a nation like Rwanda where gender policy is adored.
The University of Rwanda’s school of architecture and the built environment (SABE) had the privilege to host guest speakers from the ministry of infrastructure for this celebration. Ms. Patricie Uwase, the technical advisor to the minister & program manager SPIU and Ms. Lisette Rwiyereka, the ministry’s housing development senior engineer, and accompanied by Ilija Gubic who is supporting the ministry through the Global Green Growth Initiative (GGGI) project. The two female engineers created time out of their busy schedule to come and hold an interactive session with female students in SABE, to share experiences that give hope to the students that yes! Engineering, architecture and other technical fields belong to women too.
Dr. Manlio Michieletto welcomed the guests to the school’s boardroom at 1430h where a group of the girls in architecture had been waiting. In Attendance was Ms. Josephine Malonza, who coordinates the ‘akagoroba’ mentorship programme at the school, putting together girls in architecture. Ms. Malonza believes that women are more likely to continue to pursue a degree in architecture, engineering or related technical fields or even perform better in the same if they have a female mentor. This is an opportunity she missed during her entire architectural studies and does not wish to see younger students go through the same. The construction industry is still seen as ‘the boys’ club’ but she believes that girls should continue intruding aggressively and sustaining their stay in there.
Thanks to the generous advice the guests gave to the students, this kind of mentorship forum was a clear injection of energy and hope into the young girl’s minds towards a better future; a future where gender disparity in the workplace can be diluted; a future where female representation in especially the construction sector can be more visible; a future where women can believe in themselves more and more, and learn to keep their light shinning. That is the future for these female students and all women in STEM.
Published by Public Relations and Communication
University of Rwanda