Again, Félicité Rwemarika shines globally
Written by: George Kalisa
Thursday, May 16th, 2019, 6:46
Rwanda’s Sports personality, Ms Félicité Rwemarika received an Award of Excellence for her rare contribution towards increased participation of women in soccer through breaking the gender barrier of football in her country.
The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, one of the most influential Sociality Party figures in France, handed over the award to Rwemarika at a colourful ceremony in the French city, Lille.
The Award is one of the most precious in The International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF), a network of mayors and officials from capitals and major cities in 48 Francophone countries.
Rwemarika’s recent Award increases the list of international accolades she has earned since she settled on the call to promote the women’s football in the male dominated Rwandan soccer in 2003.
“Basically, I was inspired to work hard for women by H.E President Paul Kagame’s citizen-centred governance that is so inclusive that its leaves no Rwandan behind. Yet, he supported this initiative right from the beginning so I was like I would be a disgrace to President’s development efforts, if i don’t go an extra mile,” observes Rwemarika.
The Rwandan woman upholds strong conviction that “sports can be a powerful tool to promote women rights, gender equality and women empowerment”
“I am pretty happy to know that the international community has recognized my efforts to promote women football in my country,” Rwemarika told The Light Magazine in an interview in her office at Amahoro National Stadium in the capital Kigali.
“There is still a lot of work to do in the country, we still want to see more Rwandan women join football where we raise awareness on many issues affecting their lives such as HIV/AIDS and poverty, mindset and inferiority complex among women, and an ongoing campaign for women’s participation in football is currently rolling out countrywide,” she added.
Her dream is to see growing performance in soccer and representation of Rwandan women at the International level.
Last October, Rwemarika was elected on a new nine member committee members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) during the Committee’s general assembly in Argentina’s big cosmopolitan capital city, Muenos Aires, becoming the first Rwandan to sit on it [IOC committee] as an independent member.
Her elevation to this position occurred at a sideline meeting during the third Youth Olympic Games 2018.
Rwemarika is not only famed for founding and presiding over the association of women in sports (AKWOS) but also for her tenacious and relentless efforts to develop Rwandan football and sports in general.
Her work in sports has led to the emergency of many women achiever in soccer including Marie Grace Nyinawumuntu, the coach of the Rwanda female soccer national team who doubles as a coach for a local team of young girls, the IS Kigali, which participates in the national female league.
In 2014, Nyinawumuntu was selected the Head Coach of the female National soccer team for under 20 years and beat Kenyans before losing to Nigeria which she said was a great lesson.
Explaining why she ventured into football Rwemarika says: “After the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi that devastated our country, I figured out that sport was one of the key areas to reengineer social reconciliation and even promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. Sponsorship is not easy to find. But with the support of the National Women Council through their partnership with UN Women, we are able to open a number of doors for these girls.”
In 2016, the Rwandan women soccer leader was awarded an IOC Women and Sports Award for The African Continent during a meeting in the Swiss city and home to the International Olympic Committee Headquarters, Lausanne.
In Rwanda, Rwemarika boasts of an endless list of accolades for her unequalled role in developing of women football through the organization, AKWOS whose mission is “to empower East-African Women, starting from Rwanda, through Sports and Education”
Through women’s soccer, AKWOS thus contributes to the alleviation of poverty, HIV/AIDS prevention and improving the well-being of women and girls in East-Africa, and in the Rwandan society in particular
In 2013, she was elected an advisor on Rwanda National Olympics Committee (RNOC) before she was elected its first Vice President in 2017. Rwemarika is the first woman the first Rwandan woman to occupy the office of President of Women Commission on Rwanda’s football association, FERWAFA.
The soft-spoken and proactive lady also carries several responsibilities on her shoulders. Besides serving as a member of PROFEMME TWESE HAMWE, Rwemarika is the Chairperson of Rwanda NGO Forum on HIV/AIDS and Health Promotion and Women’s Equity in Access to Care and Treatment (WE-ACTx for Hope), an international community-based HIV/AIDS initiative operating in Rwanda since 2003.
Other Awards on her profile are Stars Foundation United Kingdom Award 2015 and ASHOKA fellowship Award (an International organization for change makers].
Rwemarika lobbied women’s representation on FERWAFA’s general assembly which was closed to women before. Today, there are two leagues for women- First and second division.