Jeannette Kagame, the First Lady of the Republic of Rwanda
Mrs. Jeannette Kagame personifies an active, relentless and passionate devotion to uplifting the lives of vulnerable populations in Rwanda; particularly those of widows, orphans of the genocide and disadvantaged families. As the nation’s First Lady, Mrs. Kagame has admirably balanced family, social life and philanthropy, not only in her own country but continental, and worldwide.
Her Excellency Mrs. Jeannette Kagame is the Chairperson of Unity Club, an organization formed in 1996, made of current and former members of Government and their spouses, to promote social cohesion and work together towards the sustainable development of Rwanda.
Mrs. Kagame became a founding member of the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) in 2002 and served as its President from 2004 – 2006. In 2001, she founded PACFA (Protection and Care of Families against HIV/AIDS), an initiative primarily focused on providing a holistic approach to HIV prevention and care for the whole family.
Over the years PACFA grew to embrace more programs and in 2007, it changed its name to Imbuto Foundation. As Chairperson of Imbuto Foundation, Mrs. Kagame oversees several initiatives under health, education, youth, and economic empowerment.
In 2004, Mrs. Jeannette Kagame became the Patron of SOS Children’s Village – Rwanda, hence further advancing the protection of children’s rights, through the mission of this international organization that provides family-based protective foster care for vulnerable children, while also meeting various health and socio-economic needs of communities.
Mrs. Jeannette Kagame, a Paul Harris Fellow, became an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Kigali-Virunga in 2004. Her philanthropic work through the Rotary includes her active involvement in raising awareness about the polio vaccination program, in Rwanda and abroad while helping mobilize various stakeholders around the World Polio Day campaigns. Mrs. Kagame also played an instrumental role in helping establish, in 2012, the Rotary-initiated project for the first Kigali Public Library.
In 2007, Mrs. Kagame was appointed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the High Representative of the Africa AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP) to ensure the active participation of African stakeholders in all areas of HIV/AIDS research and development. In 2008, the First Lady was named Patron of the White Ribbon Alliance – Rwanda Chapter, an initiative dedicated to ending maternal and infant mortality. In 2010, the World Food Programme (WFP) appointed her Special Representative on Child Nutrition. In 2013, she was elected Vice President of the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA). She has also joined UNAIDS and LANCET as one of their high-level commissioners. Mrs. Kagame serves on boards of international organizations, including Friends of the Global Fund Africa, the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise and the Global Coalition of Women against HIV/AIDS, all in recognition of her achievements and untiring efforts.
In 2014, Mrs. Kagame became an International Honorary Member of Zonta International for her contribution to changing societal attitudes about women and improving their wellbeing beyond the national level.
Mrs. Kagame holds a degree in Business and Management Science and has delivered keynote speeches at national and international fora on various themes: including leadership, economics, health, children’s welfare, youth and women’s empowerment, among others.
Mrs. Kagame is also one of the co-founders of Green Hills Academy, one of Rwanda’s top-performing schools, which was established in 1997 to contribute to the empowerment of young people through education. From a little over one hundred enrolled students twenty years ago, Green Hills Academy now has more than 1,500 students from diverse countries and is the only school in Rwanda to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, and Label France Education accreditation, helping students become more competitive at the international level.
First Lady Jeannette Kagame’s Awards:
July 2019: Award by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts during the 12th Africa Regional Conference of the World Association of Girl Guides held in Nyamata, Bugesera District for her tireless efforts in championing the empowerment of the girl child in Rwanda.
December 2018: Special Ambassador for Adolescent Health and Wellbeing, as appointed by UNAIDS, in Kigali, Rwanda, for the First Lady’s unwavering commitment to uplifting the lives of adolescents, via HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, along with youth empowerment.
September 2018: The African Women of Excellence Award, received at the Women of Excellence Awards Gala Dinner in Johannesburg, South Africa. The awards are an initiative of the African Union Commission and the African Diaspora Forum, which recognizes Women of Africa and African descent, for their contributions to success in the struggle for freedom, development, and peace; and independence in political, social and economic spheres throughout the world.
November 2017: African Woman Personality of the Year and African Heroine Award, given by the Dutch-based The Voice Magazine, for her active, relentless and passionate devotion to uplifting the lives of vulnerable people in Rwanda.
May 2016: Team Heart Humanitarian Award, given in Boston (USA) at the fundraiser for the first Rwandan cardiac care center, in recognition for her work and dedication to impacting marginalized communities.
March 2016: Award for Fighting Gender-Based Violence and promoting Women Empowerment, given at the 5th Kigali International Conference Declaration (KICD) General Assembly, held in Algiers (Algeria), in recognition for her initiated range One Stop Centre, to holistically prevent and respond to GBV.
May 2013: Outstanding Global Leader award in recognition of her contribution to promoting the rights of women and girls by Women Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE), a global movement conference and community for women, in Cape Town, South Africa.
April 2010: Honorary Doctorate, Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa presented at Oklahoma Christian University for her significant contribution to the worldwide fight against HIV/AIDS and poverty.
August 2009: Award presented in recognition of her role in promoting Girls’ Education, presented by the congregation “Les SoeursAuxiliatrices” at Ecole Notre Dame de Karubanda, Huye district.
June 2009: UNICEF Children’s Champions Award, presented to H.E. President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame by the U.S Fund for UNICEF in Boston, in recognition of their efforts at improving the lives of children in Rwanda.
December 2008: MalayikaMurinziAward presented in Kigali by 1,000 children under the Imbuto Foundation’s Scholarships Programme, in recognition of her role as a ‘guardian angel,’ the English translation of MalayikaMurinzi.
June 2007: CISCO Corporate Social Affairs Award presented in Kigali, Rwanda, in recognition of her outstanding efforts to empower Rwandan women.
January 2007: John Thompson ‘Legacy of a Dream’ Award on Martin Luther King Day, in recognition of the groundbreaking “Treat Every Child as your Own” African First Ladies’ Campaign, at the Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts in Washington D.C.
March 2003: International AIDS Trust Award presented in Washington D.C by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, in recognition of her innovative efforts in turning around the HIV pandemic.
December 2001: UNAIDS Award presented in Geneva, UNAIDS headquarters, in recognition of her untiring efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Source: Imbuto Foundation