Rwandan Women Rising memorializes the resurrection of women from
victims to leaders helping their country emerge from chaos. Unflinching
and intertwined stories detail gruesome brutality and loss. But their raw
experiences become the alchemy for grit, determination, and courage to
help reconstruct a nation.
There is a strong theme of humility and generosity in the overall style
of Rwandan women. At the grass roots, they’ve organized around com-
mon problems of poverty, shelter, health, and equality. Then, rather than
driven by political ambition, they are drawn into the public sphere to
protect their families and construct a new society.
Restoring their country means caring for one another as well, with
trailblazing pragmatism as consensus builders and collaborators. They
forgive when reconciliation defies imagination. They mentor when their
own needs cry out for attention. They break a world record when sea-
soned legislators give up quota- ensured seats to run in the general con-
test, allowing a new wave to enter politics.
The five parts that follow capture the voices of some ninety pioneering
women who grew from humble origins into these positions of political
and social leadership. Telling the story of their resilience, savvy, and com-
mitment was a hope expressed by
numerous times during our
twelve- year friendship, before her death in 2012 sent shockwaves across
the world of her admirers.
There are so many women like me in Rwanda, who have done good work,
my unwitting mentor told me. Maybe others could learn from what we’ve
gone through in such a short time, and just emerging from conflict too. If you
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