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 against the Tutsi 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 on the continent, and worldwide.
Her Excellency Mrs Jeannette Kagame, is the Chairperson of Unity Club, an organization formed in 1996, and which comprises current and former members of Government and their spouses, to promote social cohesion and sustainable development of Rwanda.
In 2001, Mrs Kagame 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. She became a founding member of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) in 2002, which later changed its name to Organisation of African First Ladies for Development, and served as its President from 2004 to 2006. Over the years PACFA grew to embrace more programmes and in 2007, it changed its name to Imbuto Foundation. (Imbuto in Kinyarwanda means “Seed”). As Chairperson of Imbuto Foundation, Mrs Kagame oversees several initiatives in the areas of 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 organisation 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 programme, in Rwanda and abroad, while helping mobilise 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 as 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 in 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 Statements 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 founders of the Green Hills Academy, one of Rwanda’s top performing schools, 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, enabling students become more competitive at the international level.