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GardaWorld an Excellent Example of Commitment to Gender Equality

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How is it like for women to work in security industry? How are private security service providers promoting gender equality in this industry.

GardaWorld a leading private security services provider has set the the pace in Rwanda. With 16% of its security officers being women in a male dominated industry. GardaWorld is committed to growing this number further by deliberately ensuring that measures that attract and retain women in the industry are promoted.

GardaWorld believes that women have their place in the company, and it thus ensures that they do take that place.

Many women have shied away from this industry which has been perceived traditionally as a man’s industry.

To change the mindset deliberate efforts are required to ensure that women understand that they have the ability to even outperform men.

Organisations have to put in place measures that ensure that gender equality is promoted.

GardaWorld has put in place a committee that ensures that issues that hinder women from joining the the industry are addressed right from recruitment to deployment.

There are direct and indirect benefits that comes with diversifying the workforce genderwise. These benefits translate to more productivity and returns to businesses and organisations.

GardaWorld endevours in having women as part of delivering its tailor-made solutions in Security, Facilities Management, Electronic security, Fleet Management and Security Consultancy.

About GardaWorld

GardaWorld is a global champion in security services, integrated risk management and cash solutions, employing more than 120,000 highly skilled and dedicated professionals. Driven by a relentless entrepreneurial culture and core values of integrity, vigilance, trust and respect, we offer sophisticated and tailored security and technology solutions through high-touch partnerships and consistently superior service delivery. With a deep understanding that security is critical to conducting business and keeping communities safe, GardaWorld is committed to impeccable governance, professional care and the well-being of everyone. Thanks to a well-earned reputation, we are proud to be the long-standing security partner of choice to some of the most prominent brands, Fortune 500 corporations and governments.   For more information, visit https://www.garda.com/

Reflecting 30 years of Women’s Role, Strength, and Resilience

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At a very festive and colorful event, President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame graced the celebration of the International Women’s Day 2024. The event that brought together thousands of women from different sectors across the country took place at BK Arena in Kigali city.

This year’s ceremony was held under the theme ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress’. The event reflected on women’s role to national development, remarking that the progress of the country is greatly dependent on the advancement of gender equality and placing women into leadership positions.

“Rwanda women are the pillar of this nation, they have made praiseworthy contributions in the three-decade journey of rebuilding the country,” President Paul Kagame said in his remarks at the event. He further noted that more is still to be done to empower women more so that their untapped potential is boosted in order to take the country to further development.

This year’s theme requires every individual to recognize the burning need to address the obstinate challenges hindering the progress of gender equality. The economic empowerment of women remains a principal objective in the pursuit of equality between men and women.

“Women have been a cornerstone of the prosperity for Rwanda. Even in during the past situations of conflict, they were in a position to make unique contributions to peace and stability. Women deserve all the peace they require without begging for it,” President Kagame said.

Investing in a woman is much beyond on human rights imperative. It goes as far as being an economic and social sense. The theme indicates that gender equality fosters more inclusive economic growth and benefits everyone in society. “Gender equality is not a woman issue, it is everyone’s concern,” He said.

The event acts as timely reminder that sufficient Women and girls have made great gains – demolishing barriers, dismantling stereotypes and driving progress towards a more just and equal world.

The day was an opportunity to connect, celebrate women’s achievements, and discuss future actions!

First Lady condoles with Namibians after death of President Geingob

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First lady

First Lady Jeannette Kagame is in Namibia to condole with the former First Lady Monica Geingos and the people of Namibia after the death of President Hage Geingob.

Geingob died on Sunday, February 4, at Lady Pohamba Hospital in the country’s capital, Windhoek, where he was receiving cancer treatment.

Flanked with her delegation, Mrs. Kagame also left a message of sympathy in the eulogy book of the late Geingob who is praised by many for being a champion of Pan-Africanism.

First Lady Jeannette Kagame condoles with the former First Lady Monica Geingos  after the death of President Hage Geingob.

First Lady Jeannette Kagame condoles with the former First Lady Monica Geingos after the death of President Hage Geingob.

Following the death of President Geingob, Nangolo Mbumba, previously Vice President, was sworn in as the interim President of Namibia.

The memorial service for the 82-year-old late Namibian President is scheduled for February 23 with burial on February 25, as announced by President Mbumba.

Born in 1941, Geingob was a prominent politician before Namibia achieved independence from white minority-ruled South Africa in 1990.

He chaired the body that drafted Namibia’s constitution, then became its first prime minister at independence on March 21 of that year, a position he retained until 2002.

In 2007, Geingob became vice president of the governing South West Africa People’s Organisation (Swapo), which he had joined as an agitator for independence when Namibia was still known as South West Africa.

WOMEN COFFEE: The Story of HINGA KAWAWOMEN COFFEE:

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The Abakundakawa (“Those Who Love Coffee”) Rushashi Coffee Cooperative, located in the northern mountainous region of the district of Gakenke, is situated at an altitude of 1700-1900 meters and encompasses five distinct zones. The coffee cooperative was formed in 2004 and due to a strong women’s movement became the first Women’s Farmer Association of its kind in Rwanda. 

Abakundakawa coffee cooperative is represented by two, all women associations, Hingakawa (“Let’s Grow Coffee”) and Dukundakawa. (“We love Coffee”). 

The women of Hingakawa have seen one of the darkest periods of Rwandan history. Since this group includes both Hutu and Tutsi, the women made a decision to make poverty their mutual enemy rather than each other; and with this sentiment, they have been able to move forward and heal their community through their leadership. 

After the coffee farms in Rwanda were left fallow for a time, several organizations assisted the farmers to be able to produce coffee once again. Hingakawa, as the name suggests (“Let’s Grow Coffee”), is more of a chant than it is a mere statement.

It is a resolution to fight an epidemic that has crippled and claimed lives of numerous households: Poverty. These women have had enough and have come together to yell out loud “LET’S GROW COFFEE” together and reclaim our lives. 

Like every corner of this world, the African continent continues to jump leaps and bounds to shun itself from a continent that is historically known for the “rule of man”. Commonly and recently still referent to as the last frontier where women still have no rights; where dignity is a hard earned thought. When a country like Rwanda goes through a devastating genocide, it was not uncommon to hear skeptics, analysts and so-called experts refer to it as “stateless…hopeless; a country just as dotted on the map in size, is just as easy to erase off the map” – and on and on. Infuriating as it must have been to hear time and time again it added an overwhelming feeling of forlornness. 

However, as relevant as it is, this is not a story of how they got there; it’s a story of who was daring enough to plant seeds of hope at the bedrock soils of underlying skulls; “The Women Coffee Farmers of Rwanda” If you had a cup of coffee today, chances are that it was planted, tendered, picked, delivered, harvested, processed, sun-dried, sorted, hulled, analyzed, bagged, transported, counted, roasted, re-bagged, ground, steeped, handcrafted, and served to you by a woman. Coffee, just like humans, has a high natural deliquescent microcosm, where the line between character and contamination is extremely fickle. After the genocide, Rwanda stood at the crossroads of the latter microcosm.

Society was broken; its only chance of survival was to have a change of heart as a society – a complete overhaul. Equality and reconciliation was not just an option, but an absolute necessity. 

Coffee farmers were one of the first pillars of society that wholly embraced the trickle down messages of equality and the banishment of archaic patriarchal from the leadership of women – a cultural risk that is often not given its due credit of exemplary courage where equality is otherwise seen as taboo. A courage that is partially and significantly responsible in stitching the hearts and minds of a once torn society; a courage desperately needed in re-stitching an industry tearing at the seams of sustainability, transparency and quality. The role of women in coffee can no longer be undermined, unnoticed, or gone un-incentivized. The trick is getting to know “who” they are. 

We are proud to introduce you to the brave women of Hingakawa Women’s Coffee. The journey of both the producers and product are fully traceable by a third party traceability verifier. The details to chain of custody tracking allow us to recognize these incredible women and understand what makes this coffee as special as it tastes.

10 Reasons to Invest in Women and Girls

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Rwandan President Paul Kagame (center) has been a proponent of putting women in positions of power. He's shown participating in a 2010 conference at the nation's Parliament to discuss the role of women.

They’re your mothers and your daughters, your sisters and your aunts, your cousins and your friends. There are so many reasons to invest in them, beside the fact that you love them. Here are 10:

1. More inclusive government. If you’d like to see less fighting among your elected officials, encourage women to run for public office. According to USAID, countries where women hold at least 30 percent of political seats are more inclusive, egalitarian and democratic.

2. Improved public-service delivery. The next time you’re frustrated by poor roads or a lack of potable water, vote for a woman. USAID reports that women’s political participation increases cooperation across party and ethnic lines and improves government responsiveness to citizens.

3. Greater farm production. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization found that empowering women farmers with the same access to land, new technologies and capital as men could increase crop yields by as much as 30 percent.

4. Fewer hungry people. When women succeed, society succeeds. Nowhere is that more clear than in food production. In that same report, the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that a 30 percent crop yield boost means 150 million fewer hungry people.

5. Increased buying power. As onetime World Bank chief economist Lawrence Summers said, “Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world.” Each year of secondary school boosts a girl’s future earning power by roughly 20 percent.

6. Stronger economies. Educating a girl pays dividends for her family once she becomes a woman and for her country too. According to USAID, when 10 percent more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases an average 3 percent.

7. Fewer child deaths. Women who are educated are better able to take care of themselves and their children. According to UNESCO, a child born to a mother who can read is 50 percent more likely to live past age 5.

8. Less HIV/AIDS. For UNICEF, education is essential to slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS. That’s because girls who are better educated are less likely to engage in casual sex.

9. Fewer conflicts. When women’s lives are valued, their experiences considered and their voices heard, better outcomes prevail. Through its peacekeeping operations, the U.N. has found that when women are included, deadly conflicts can be avoided.

10. More lasting peace. Women have an important role to play in driving reconciliation and reconstruction. According to the U.N., involving women in conflict negotiation and peace building efforts can lead to more widely accepted and durable peace agreements.

Closing Gender Gaps in Agriculture, Helping Women Farmers into Feasible Sustainability.

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In addition to preserving the earth’s natural resources, sustainable agriculture benefits the environment through helping to maintain soil quality, reducing erosion, and preserving water. However, and most importantly, owing to the fact that the earth’s population is rapidly growing and with such an expansion comes along with increased need for more resources, without support to sustainable agricultural production the world is at a significant threat.

Imagine statistics that indicate that the global population is going to reach 9 billion people by 2050. Today, more than 1 billion people of the world depend on farming for their income and livelihood. This implies that although the world is doing much with increasing food production, the earth’s population has become a growing concern for the possibilities of producing that much food with the limited resources available.

In order to maintain stable livelihood and sustainable lifestyle, countries, especially of the developing world together with agriculturalists must focus on certain criteria in order to meet the sustainability practices and needs. This calls for creating a healthy environment, while ensuring economic profitability in addition to maintaining social and economic support and equity for every member of the food system to be able to manage a sustainable lifestyle. Such members of the food system and supply chain include mainly the smallholder farmers.

Smallholder farmers are the main food producers in development countries. Increased smallholder agricultural production means more food enters the market place and on family tables, leading to lower food prices and better diets. In Africa alone, there are an estimated 33 million smallholder farms, and their farmers that live on them contribute to 70% of Africa’s food supply.

STARS Rwanda Gender Focus

“Like in all other African countries, Rwandan women perform most of the activities in agriculture production ranging from farming, winnowing, drying and marketing, however sometimes they do as voluntary work and this brings inequality together with all its limitations,” says Shyaka Francis, STARS value chain development advisor, a five-year (2017-2021) project in partnership with Mastercard Foundation.

ICCO, in collaboration with MarterCard Foundation have worked with endless effort to promote female inclusion. The theory of change is the backbone of this development program that STARS designed to drive forth its interventions tailored to improving the capacity of women smallholders and participation in the food systems and value chain.

Empowering women smallholder farmers to grow more and better crops, better food and increased incomes is a prerequisite. While the country’s agriculture accounts for a third of the national GDP and yet more than 70% of Rwandan women are engaged in agriculture, it is disappointing that these women don’t have access to land, production inputs, finance or markets as compared to men.

As a result women smallholder farmers are mostly relegated to subsistence farming. While their families rely on their small harvest as the main source of food and nutrition, the lack of quality agriculture inputs, finance, and technology reduces the yield and diversity of their crops. This ultimately impacts the food and nutrition security plus incomes of their families.

Women obstacle

During the first year of implementation in 2017, STARS took to a feasibility study to examine situation in which women were operating and realized that there were various constraints to women inclusion in various value chains. With a serious focus on farmers and producer organizations, a range of gender differences in access to finance, farm inputs, knowledge and skill, service, market as well as control over assets especially land

Women smallholder farmers have been known face a serious challenge of poor incomes rallied with too much agricultural responsibility and work alongside unpaid domestic labour. Others include:

  • Poor literacy, especially lack of financial and digital skills
  • Limited time, capacity and resources to travel to access training, finance, and market etc.
  • Inadequate access to, and ownership of land for agricultural production and collateral
  • Less access to information, markets and big buyers as compared to men
  • Low access to finance and required collateral
  • Low representation of women in key decision-making bodies within producer organizations like cooperatives and other local institutions, in addition to low women participation in meetings
  • Unnecessary male domination and control over women (e.g. decision on women’s businesses, use of income, in addition to limited decision making power at household or community level;


STARS Power of change

Almost all of the mentioned barriers mentioned earlier have been known to be interrelated and are always reinforcing. One barrier contributes to the strength of impact of another and vice versa. Take for example an illiterate woman whose is cause of ignorance are limited resources to cater for education or training.

The ICCO’s STARS program is an ideology of change that came at a time when it was greatly needed and used a variety of approaches to address these constraints.

STARS program has supported producer organizations in Rwanda to include more women in their leadership and by so doing, stimulated women capacities in agriculture where many of them have become leaders in their homes, their farms, and their communities. This has resulted into women building an understanding of self esteem and confidence. Through the program, women farmers have come to value their positions and role in the value chain activities. Women farmers are leaders in dialogues of conflicts resolutions on agricultural resources which have greatly reduced among households. Women representatives in POs leadership positions increased from 20% to between 30 – 40%. In addition, women have less fear to request loans for agricultural activities and are supported by their husbands.

What They Say!

A good example is one of the cooperatives in Nyagatare district of the Eastern province of Rwanda called COPRIMU cooperative. Before the cooperative started working with the STARS program in 2017, it had governance issues that were holding them back and demoralizing its members. Fortune Murangoyire, the manager of the cooperative explained. “We would transact money without documentation and staff would take leave without filling any forms. Unable to access money when needed inputs, members always felt very disappointed and lost confidence in the leadership”.

Consolee, is a member of COPRIMU, she used to farm on just 18 acres of land, barely producing enough to feed her family, let alone selling. They were farming without plan and direction. One would be planting, another weeding, and someone else would be applying pesticide, you can imagine the chaos across the marshland,” Consolee says.

Consolee, is a member of COPRIMU

She was not the only COPRIMU member for whom farming was not rewarding. The production of the cooperative stood at 280 tons on 140 ha in 2017. This translated to just two tons per hectare, despite the amount of seed they sunk into the marshland during planting. “We used to plant 8 kg on 12 acres and even complained that it was little”, Consolee laughs.

The establishment of gender committees by STARS at each producer organization helped to resolve conflicts and empower its women members like Consolee to participate more actively in the affairs of their cooperatives, take charge of their production and understand their right to earn and manage the money they got paid for their rice yield. And it has also been a great opportunity for women to improve their self-confidence, autonomy, risk-taking abilities and to become role models for their colleagues.

“Women started taking leadership roles, vying for positions alongside men in the governance committee”, COPRIMU manager recounted.

“I was not left behind. I vied for and was elected leader of Kundumuceli group, in charge of almost 140 farmers,” Consolee says proudly.

The shift in governance revived the members’ trust for the leadership of the cooperative. Whereas farmers were accustomed to selling off their produce to the highest bidder, they now pooled their harvest together and allowed the cooperative to negotiate off-taker contracts with a processor; Nyagatare rice. STARS program had orchestrated the linkage with the buyer.

The changes brought in by the gender committee were also seen in many other cooperatives. Women members from KABIYAKI cooperative in Kamonyi District, Southern province, expressed their full enjoyment of the leadership of their Cooperative chairperson who is a woman and they say that “When we see our fellow woman colleague governing a big cooperative, poor mindset of inferiority complex and fear to take on big responsibility fades off and we do not hesitate to freely express our ideas (Focus group discussion, Lessons learned from the STARS, interventions for female smallholder farmers in Rwanda report, 2021).

“The capacity building support from STARS made me feel as a powerful woman with more confidence when leading meeting with our cooperative members, and I have realized that my colleagues women were awaken especially when it comes to express their ideas or to give their candidature for different leadership positions within cooperative,” KABIYAKI president states.

KABIYAKI president

Beyond direct STARS positive impact to cooperative members, respondents from IMPABARUTA cooperative revealed to have used knowledge from the training on gender to handle family gender-based violence. This cooperative developed a great initiative to invite those couples experiencing household conflict in order to educate them about family conflict prevention and to show them the importance of letting their wives participate in cooperative activities for the best of the household’s benefits including children and husbands. This best practice worked well, and many couples were reunified and now live in family harmony.

One female farmer explains that, “There is asignificant difference before the program and now. Actually, relationships between men and women are improved; they discuss and decide together about household’s matters. Now we observe that the cases of gender-based violence have decreased even among our colleagues’ households”

About STAR-ICCO Project

The STARS Rwanda project, through its market system development approach, focuses on improving access to finance and markets for more than 200,000 smallholder farmers in Rwanda. Other areas of the project’s operation include Senegal and Boukina Faso and Ethiopea. The project targets and plans to have an overall impact on the lives of more than 1 million people and their families. STARS improves value chain and gives smallholders better access to financial instruments, skills, inputs, and market