Ambassador Joy Mukanyange
Rwanda Association of University Women - RAUW
Rwanda Association of University Women
Ambassador Joy Mukanyange
"It was a very difficult period," Mukanyange
"Very few people were willing to take Rwanda seriously.
"So, I had to do a lot of political work to explain the situations, to actually assert Rwanda's sovereignty.
I had to assert Rwanda's image as a country and a government able to face these problems and deal with them."
Mukanyange, the inaugural president of RAUW, was Rwanda's ambassador to Tanzania from 1996 to 1999, and ambassador to Kenya for the following three years.
For nine years prior to the genocide she
lived in the Netherlands working for an agricultural and development organization.
returned to the country in July 1994.
ambassadorship to Tanzania, she
says, "the effects of genocide were still there - a lot.
Mukanyange, who was born in Rwanda in 1951, spoke at the Kigali home of RAUW founder Shirley Randell.
Ambassador Mukanyange has three children: a son, 22, who is studying in the United States; and two daughters, Alice, 21, who is taking a course in tourism in Kigali, and Faith, 20, a student at Makerere University in Uganda.
father, a minister with the Anglican Church
, in 1960.
In 1964 she
mother and siblings went to Uganda with the help of Anglican missionaries based in Burundi.
Instead of living in a refugee camp, like so many Rwandese exiles, her
family was resettled in a mission in the center of Uganda, where Rwandese were few and far between.
"My mother was a very strong woman.
I didn't recognize that at the time, but in hindsight I know it.
We were taught from a long time ago that only the best would be expected from us.
There was really no question of us not going to school."
Later, Mukanyange studied literature and philosophy at Makerere University.
tenure as president of RAUW
was elected in 2006 -- she
has made education for girls a top priority.
Luckily for the current generation of Rwandese girls, she
says, the opportunities are vastly superior than they were during Mukanyange's childhood.
"The change has been enormous.
"Women are still very far behind in education and there are still problems," Mukanyange
The best schools are still boys' schools, Mukanyange
"Even the best girls' schools don't teach science.
The best university scholarships are given to science students, which keeps reducing the number of girls.
It's going to take some time and determination to actually change."
And yet, Ambassador Mukanyange
sees progress, and hopes to encourage the tide of social change through RAUW programs.
When Mukanyange was a child, there were no women in leadership positions in Rwanda.