The pivotal role of women after the Rwandan genocide offers a powerful model of peaceful change and lasting security. How they contributed to this transformation holds lessons for other countries in conflict, including nearby South Sudan, and aid donors such as the United States. On June 26, the U.S. Institute of Peace and the organization Inclusive Security held a discussion on Rwanda’s transition from genocide to a country at peace, where women hold 64 percent of seats in parliament.

Violent conflict often upturns a society’s power structures. After the violence subsided in Rwanda, women carved out new roles, often focused on reconciliation and the economy. While the genocide is infamous for its death toll of an estimated 800,000 people, and the country’s recovery has received widespread attention, the key role of women in that revival is less well-known. 

The panel included Swanee Hunt, the founder and chair of co-host Inclusive Security who recently published a book on women in Rwanda, and retired Ambassador George Moose, who grappled with the unfolding tragedy of the genocide as then-U.S. assistant secretary of state for African Affairs. They and the other experts considered how the role of women in Rwanda’s recovery might be applied in other cases, such as South Sudan, to create lasting peace and stability.

Speakers

Ambassador Swanee Hunt
Founder and Chair, Inclusive Security
Author, Rwandan Women Rising

Ambassador George Moose
Vice Chairman, Board of Directors, U.S. Institute of Peace

Carla Koppell
Vice President, Applied Conflict Transformation, U.S. Institute of Peace

Susan Stigant
Director, Africa Programs, U.S. Institute of Peace

Consolee Nishimwe
Author and Genocide Survivor

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