Today, Her Excellency (HE) Yamina Karitanyi, the High Commissioner for the Republic of Rwanda, visited JCG to meet our students and discuss how they may use their abilities to make the world better.
The students shared their projects, Schools of Change and the Festival of Cultures, and conversed about the Convention on Elimination of Discriminations Against Women (CEDAW) and its continued importance.The Schools of Change Project is a partnership between JCG and Rwandan schools to form a group of schools around the world all working together on environmental projects. They are currently researching plastics usage and tree planting.
During the conversation about CEDAW, our students asked questions about HE’s path through politics and how she works to overcome barriers for women. HE explained that by educating yourself to know how to take up your calling and by fighting and working for what you believe in, you will find the right path for you. HE said that, “Education doesn’t come from Instagram or social media. Pick up a book and engage your brain. Learn to switch off all the traffic headed your way. Be curious and accept your call, don’t fear it. Preparation meets opportunity. Passion fed well will give you opportunity. Ask yourself, am I doing right by me? By my community? You can only contribute if you are included. CEDAW isn’t just about education for girls and women, it’s about education for men, boys, for all humans. Only when we work together will things change. Men play a significant part in creating opportunities for women. Gender equality cannot be achieved by women alone.”
Kayleigh Lennon, Y12, JCG, thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the experience of meeting and listening to HE, ‘Today, in JCG’s library, a discussion group took place, an extension on the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, between her Excellency Yamina Karitanyi and a selection of students. In shorter words, it was the clarity and courage of one extraordinary woman, passed on to our ambitious but unworldly ears.
When speaking of her home nation, Rwanda, HE explained that the Government has a minimum quota of 30% female representation in parliament. This small and deliberate action has facilitated a natural evolution, with women now holding 62% of parliamentary seats. HE explained that the most crucial step to female empowerment is learning through seeing; if young girls grow in a world where the word ‘leader’ is equally associated with men and women, they will grow into the leaders our world needs.
This message reverberated throughout the discussion, and HE noted that in the 21st Century ‘Female participation is no longer a luxury, but an obligation.’ As a seventeen year old girl, who hasn’t yet had much time to contribute to the world, her words truly moved me; and I plan to carry them with me as I move into my own future. Speaking for a country which was torn apart by genocide, and now speaking for a world in the trauma of a pandemic and plagued by environmental crisis, HE highlighted the importance of female participation. We cannot afford to live in a world where 52% of the population are not able to fulfil their potential.
Speaking to HE today, and looking at the girls who surrounded me, I look forward to the day when we perhaps find ourselves in leadership positions, taking responsibility for our planet and enriching the world with our voices. I hope, by then, the room will be filled with women.”