Rwanda, for the first time, has hosted an international conference on Gender Equity in Sport for Social Change. The conference which was held at the La Palisse Hotel in Kigali on 23-24 April 2007, brought together women’s sports association leaders from Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, South Africa and The Netherlands. Kenya was invited but was not represented. The conference was also attended by the international organizations that financed it, including but not limited to: NIKE, SNV Rwanda, GLOBAL GIVING, to mention but a few. President of Association of Kigali Women Footballers (AKWOF) Ms Felicite Rwemalika to give a welcome speech. She began by requesting all participants to take a minute of silence to remember the victims of the 1994 genocide. Following this, Ms Rwemalika welcomed all the participants to a country of a thousand hills and a thousand smiles and expressed her gratitude for the big turn up of people from various organizations and countries. She gave a brief introduction of AKWOF and informed the conference that it was started as a very small organisation in the city of Kigali but has expanded and in 2007 it has teams in all the provinces of the country. Among the association milestones, Ms Rwemalika highlighted that women’s football has been integrated in the Rwandan Federation of Football Associations (FERWAFA), it has recruited teams in all the countries provinces and has used sports as a medium for transmitting other messages, such as unity and reconciliation, HIV/Aids and gender. Ms Rwemalika as president of AKOWF was also recently elected to head the commission of female football at the national level. She told the participants that before forming this association, it was very difficult for people in Rwanda to understand that women can play foot ball. “…We had many challenges, to start this association but now there are testimonies…”. She also said that this initiative was from the beginning supported by the President of the Republic of Rwanda H.E Paul Kagame and the City of Kigali helped a lot in terms of ideas, moral support and advocacy.
At the conclusion of the Conference, Felicite Rwemalika, was named the Executive Director Association of Kigali Women in Sport (AKWOS). AKWOS will build on the success achieved by AKWOF by engaging girls and women in a broader range of sports, including Netball, Sitball (for the disabled) and other sports. She will be responsible for leading the organization’s strategic growth, including fundraising and business planning, while overseeing all operational aspects of organizing leagues & events and communication and outreach to stakeholders.
This means that our project will need more funding so that we can successfully scale up our important work. Thanks to all our donors for their generosity!