International Women’s Day at Akilah

Last Thursday marked International Women’s Day (IWD), a holiday to celebrate the progress and achievements of women around the world. At Akilah this day has a particularly special meaning, as we strive to prepare our students to be not only leaders and entrepreneurs in Rwanda, but also role models of female empowerment for future generations (See more pictures from International Women’s Day on our Facebook Page>>).

Green Class decorations

In order to properly celebrate, we held a contest where each class had to decorate their classroom based on this year’s IWD theme of “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures”. On Wednesday we announced the competition, noting that they must collaborate as a team, and gave them each a small budget to purchase materials. The following day we allotted two hours for decoration, and at 2pm the judging promptly began!

Blue Class decorations

The Green Class (Year 1) welcomed the judges with a large “WELCOME” sign decorated with flowers, and explained their theme of using fruit to symbolize the vitality and life that women bring to society and the business community. The Blue Class  (Year 2) used the colors of the Rwandan flag to decorate their classroom, using traditional Rwandan art to remind them of the role of women both past and present. The Yellow Class (Year 1) led the judges in along a pathway decorated with the IWD 2012 theme, and even opened with an impromptu dance! They chose pink ribbons to express femininity, and placed them in the shape of a giant Y for Yellow Class.

Yellow Class decorations

After a long and heated debate, the judges selected Blue Class as the winners of the International Women’s Day challenge for their success in tying this year’s theme to their classroom decoration. Every student made a tremendous effort and produced impressive results, and we are excited to enjoy the classroom decorations for quite some time!

Miss Jojo addresses the crowd at K-Club; Akilah students cheer on the dance floor

The IWD celebration continued into the evening with a special event at K-Club in the Nyarutarama neighborhood of Kigali. Students sold Akilah merchandise such as bracelets, shirts, and totebags, as well as merchandise from their own jewelry and handbag businesses. We had several guest DJ’s from local radio stations playing tunes, and even had a surprise visit from Rwanda’s famous singer Miss Jojo! The students were ecstatic to meet her, and hear her speak on women’s empowerment in Rwanda and all of East Africa. We also showed the Akilah IWD Video, which received rave reviews from all in attendance.

Executive Director Lisa Martilotta with Akilah students at K-Club dressed in the traditional Rwandan fashion

Our students and staff had a great time dancing the night away to celebrate IWD 2012 while raising money for Akilah. Thank you to K-Club for graciously hosting the event, and to Casino Kigali for their generous donation to Akilah in honor of International Women’s Day!

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