Like always, it has always been my pleasure to visit here. I can truly say now that it is one of my favorite places in the world. I mean I’ve never been in love with a country more than this landlocked country bordered by Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west. This country is not just known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills” but also the land of thousands of wonderful people. Everything around here seems so comfortable every time even when I am a single woman who keeps travelling here alone.
Traveling alone can be an enriching and transformative experience but concerns about safety and support are often raised. However, Rwanda defies these concerns, offering a welcoming environment for solo female travelers.
Rwanda’s remarkable progress in promoting gender equality sets it apart from many other countries. The local environment exudes a sense of equality that is both tangible and empowering. From ministers to ordinary citizens, the concept of gender equality permeates society, allowing women to flourish in various spheres of life.
Women in Parliament and the Workforce: Rwanda boasts an impressive representation of women in parliament, surpassing global averages. As of recent data, women hold 61.3% of seats in the Lower House, reflecting a commitment to inclusivity and diverse voices in decision-making processes. Additionally, Rwanda exhibits a high rate of female labor force participation, with women engaged in various sectors, working diligently to support their families and contribute to the economy.
Supportive Culture: One of the most striking aspects of Rwandan society is the widespread support and respect offered to women. It is ingrained in the fabric of daily life, transcending boundaries of profession or social status. Even in casual interactions, from bike rides to interactions with locals, women are met with care and consideration. This supportive culture creates an atmosphere of safety and encouragement for solo female travelers.
Breaking Stereotypes: For visitors accustomed to strict societal rules and regulations, Rwanda presents a refreshing change. The sense of liberty and freedom experienced in the country challenges preconceived notions and breaks away from the limitations placed on women in some cultures. This departure from traditional constraints allows women to embrace their individuality and pursue their aspirations without fear of judgment or restriction.
A Hub for Equality Discourse: Rwanda’s commitment to gender equality is further evident through initiatives such as the “Women Deliver 2023” event. This platform facilitates discussions on inequality and serves as a reminder of Rwanda’s progress. It also highlights the contrast between Rwanda and other countries, where local governments often lag in promoting gender equality.
In my interactions with the local community, it became evident that the vision and leadership of President Paul Kagame have played a pivotal role in Rwanda’s transformation. The transition period from 2000 to 2023, which spans just over 30 years, has witnessed remarkable changes in various aspects of Rwandan society.
One aspect that struck me was the country’s rapid adoption of technology. In just one year since my first visit in 2022, I noticed a significant increase in technology usage among young students and professionals. Platforms like Chipper Cash, social channels such as LinkedIn, which were previously uncommon, have become widely embraced. It signifies a growing understanding and integration of technology in daily life, contributing to Rwanda’s progress.
Furthermore, conversations with locals revealed deep admiration and respect for President Kagame. They recounted his teachings about the importance of marrying only once to prevent overpopulation and alleviate poverty. While this knowledge is not unique, the remarkable difference lies in how Rwandans have internalised and implemented this wisdom. People recognise the benefits of smaller families and actively practice family planning to secure a better quality of life.
The culture of integrity and honesty has also permeated Rwandan society. The people have distanced themselves from corrupt practices, refusing to engage in bribery or accept illicit payments. If someone is observed engaging in such activities, others intervene to discourage them. This shift in mentality has had a profound impact on fostering a sense of trust, fairness, and genuine interaction within the community.
In terms of economic growth, Rwanda has embraced a forward-thinking approach. The country is open for business and has simplified the process of registering a business, allowing entrepreneurs to establish their ventures within six hours. The government actively seeks feedback and suggestions to improve their policies and facilitate cross-country collaborations. Rwanda aims to create a unified digital market, demonstrating its commitment to embracing technology and adapting to the needs of the modern world.
While the Inclusive Fintech Forum 2023 I attended highlighted many positive aspects, the absence of lawyers was notable. Including legal professionals in such discussions can help bridge the understanding gap and ensure comprehensive development in various sectors.
One of the notable aspects of the Inclusive Fintech Forum in Rwanda was its inclusivity and engagement of diverse participants. It was remarkable to witness the forum’s invitation extended not only to entrepreneurs and policymakers but also to local university students and young individuals from Uganda. This inclusive approach allowed these young participants to interact, network, and engage with experienced professionals, fostering a dynamic exchange of ideas and insights.
The event exemplified a shifting paradigm in the business world, where the younger generation is not only adapting to change but also driving it. The traditional notion of older generations passing down knowledge and expertise is evolving, as the younger generation is demonstrating a natural readiness to challenge established norms and bring fresh perspectives to the table. It is very similar to what we try to do at the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce. The forum provided a platform for these young minds to share their views and demonstrate how times have changed, highlighting that traditional approaches may no longer be applicable in the rapidly evolving Fintech landscape.
This spirit of intergenerational collaboration and openness to new ideas showcased the vibrant and forward-thinking nature of the Fintech community in Rwanda. As the world continues to change, embracing this collaborative and inclusive approach will be instrumental in propelling the Fintech sector forward and ensuring its continued growth and success.
In conclusion, my year-long journey through Rwanda has been nothing short of extraordinary. The country’s progress is evident, driven by visionary leadership, a supportive community, and an eagerness to embrace technological advancements. Rwanda’s commitment to gender equality and empowerment, the culture of integrity, and the proactive approach towards economic growth make it a truly exceptional nation. As Rwanda continues to evolve and nurture its people, it sets an inspiring example for other countries striving for positive change.