Women for Rwanda Supper Club

Women for Rwanda Supper Club
Women for Rwanda Supper Club


As part of Women for Rwanda‘s project One Woman, One Year, One house, the supper club initiative was born to increase awareness while enjoying a pleasurable experience such as eating. We realised how doing charity per se is a concept of the past century and people are fed up with pictures of misery and grievance, for this we believe that taking to a table the discussion around women empowerment and development is indeed a stronger motivator for change.
Indeed, our guests have found rather pleasurable to share their evening with a conscious audience and of course traditional Rwandese food. It is rather hard, even in a cosmopolite London, to find Rwandese dishes and delicatessen, hence we decided that we had the duty to share one of the million wonders of Rwanda. We decided to serve avocado on a bed of homemade croutons as starter together with homemade bread (all of course watered with the right dose of nectar). The meal proceeded with traditional grilled goat meat -locally sourced- together with plantain and spicy beans. We could not conclude better the dinner than with a plantain cake and Rwandese tea (some of us have spiced it up with a hint of honey rum, unfortunately could not make banana beer, a traditional Rwandese drink).

We hope that this initiative will be the beginning of a new chapter of Women for Rwanda‘s campaigns, fusing dining with awareness and empowerment. If you would like to take part in the sustainable supper club movement, we would be more than happy to welcome you and your friends or cater delicious Rwandese food at your front door andshare our story.

Women for Rwanda Supper Club Menu
Women for Rwanda Supper Club Menu

At Women for Rwanda we believe that just because you cannot do everything does not mean you should do nothing.


The Great Wall of Vagina

Have you heard of The Great Wall of Vagina? That’s right, vagina.

It’s a masterpiece of a Brighton-based artist Jamie McCartney in his latest exhibition Skin Deep. The artwork, which unfortunately was only on display for the month of May, is a 9-meter-long wall that consists of “four hundred plaster casts of vulvas, all of them unique, arranged into ten large panels.”

This controversial piece can be interpreted in different ways, but many female participants themselves see it as a positive step towards demystifying the feminine.

Our media displays the female body again and again in a range of different ways, but the vulva is always left hidden and untouched in the day-to-day imagery we receive. Pornographic films, on the other hand, emphasize on displaying the vagina, but the type of genitalia shown in porn is very limited. Therefore, currently, the only representation of the vagina available is the pornographic vagina. Also, at the same time, the idea that porn films show what the rest of the media is not allowed to show, further enforce the idea that the feminine private parts are something to be hidden.

McCartney hopes his artwork will make talking about female genitalia more normal. He says he first came up with the idea five years ago when he begun to realize how many women suffer from low self-esteem because of the look of their genitals.

“I had no idea women had anxiety about their private parts. I began to wonder, as an artist, if I could take this any further.”

Mardi, one of the 400 participants, describes her experiences of participating in the artwork in the following way:

“Looking at it from a cast I was quietly surprised. I was very pleased with it. Vagina is a really important piece of equipment. It’s the gate way to life, really. This is a much softer way to record what your body looks like.”

And the piece really is a spectacle. The sexual has become nonsexual. Mardi continues, “I like the ethos of the piece, of showing different women all the different types of varieties of vagina which one can have, which we now know is lots!”

Josetta, another participant, talks of the social significance of the wall:

“It really helps you get over any body issues, I think. Lots of women feel the shape of their vagina is a bit different, because they are all different… To bring back the idea of women’s bodies, and parts of our bodies, into an art, I think is very different to women being objectified with a pornographic, sexual, or the male gaze.”

Finally, she concludes in a way that also speaks for Women for Rwanda: “The whole nature of the project feels very empowering to women. That in its self can counteract the kind of damaging view of women.”

The artist himself admiring The Wall.

We’re interested to hear what you think. Do you find McCartney’s spectacle vulgar, uncomfortable to see, or perhaps further objectifying women? Or, would you agree with Mardi and Josetta, that the artwork is empowering women, breaking patriarchal norms, and demystifying the hidden? If you’d interested to find out more, have a look at The Great Wall of Vagina film gallery here.

Peacebuilding in Rwanda

A few nights ago I attended a talk by Freddy Mutanguha at the Royal Commonwealth Society near Embankment in London. Freddy is the director of the Kigali Memorial Centre, and his speech was about Peacebuilding in Rwanda. Although there are no perfect solutions, I want to share with you what I gathered from Freddy’s talk.

Freddy, the director of the Kigali Memorial Centre, was visiting London this week.

The event began with a video clip that Aegis Trust, the charity that built the Kigali Memorial Centre, had put together. The clip, called Not On My Watch, was a touching overview of the genocide and its aftermath. I picked up the following, unsettling numbers to demonstrate the totality of the genocide: in 100 days 1,000,000 people were killed, mostly by using machetes. That means 10,000 people a day, 400 an hour, 7 people every minute.

Today 18 years have passed since the genocide. The Rwandan government has taken extensive measures to encourage unity (such as forbidding public use of the words ‘Hutu’ and ‘Tutsi’), but many still argue that these measures are ineffective, perhaps even counterproductive. Most of the audience questions had to do with how is Rwanda really coping today. One audience member raised his hand and said he had recently visited Northern Rwanda and attended a church service in a village. He pointed out that the church had consisted exclusively of Hutus, and implied that Rwandan society is still largely segregated. Freddy, who had talked a lot about unity, simply answered that a possible reason there weren’t any Tutsis in that church was because there are none left in the area. There are parts of Rwanda where the genocide was completed wholly and entirely.

Another audience member asked about the psychology of the perpetrators. She had difficulty grasping the brutality of the killings and she asked whether the perpetrators today are in denial or help in Peacebuilding.

“No one really thought about psychology at first,” Freddy said. Today, the perpetrators are divided: some help in Peacebuilding, some just want to forget. Freddy gave an example how on every last Saturday of every month people across Rwanda get together to clean roads of the villages and work together for a better community. This means both victims and perpetrators. Officially, no one is a Hutu or Tutsi anymore; all people are Rwandese.

The conversation then went on to discuss education. Freddy himself is a certified teacher at the National University of Rwanda. In his talk, he highlighted the importance of critical thinking. To demonstrate what he meant he used a light-hearted example of Omo, the detergent product. He said that everyone in Rwanda washes their clothes with Omo but if someone is to ask them ‘why Omo’ most people wouldn’t know what to say. He said that the most important thing in genocide education is to teach children to critically assess their personal beliefs and those of society, beliefs no matter how small, from ideas of washing detergent, to ideas of nationality, gender, ethnicity, and race.

Someone then asked, “But is it enough?”

Freddy smiled at the immensity of the question, and said “What we can do, lets do it.”

Freddy’s words go hand-in-hand with the quote Women for Rwanda runs by: Just because you can’t do everything, doesn’t mean you should do nothing. If you can do it, lets do it!

Starbucks Event 2012

Last week Women for Rwanda partnered up with Starbucks to sell Starbucks coffee and products both at Hult House on John Street, and at Hult Russel Square. All coffee and products were donated by Starbucks on Southampton Row.

Overall, the day was a success! Not only did the students and faculty at Hult get to enjoy great coffee in the midst of their finals week, but Women for Rwanda gained further recognition within the student community. Thanks to Starbucks’ generous involvement, all money made in the coffee sale will directly go to Women for Rwanda.

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International Women’s Day

This spring, on International Women’s Day, March 8th, Women for Rwanda walked through London with Million Women Rise demanding to end male violence against women. Million Women Rise is a London-based coalition, which organized its first Women’s Day march in 2008. The theme this year was The Girl Child, and the featured color was purple. Purple is the color of mourning in Rwanda, thus, our group wore our purple t-shirts to bring recognition to Rwandan women, and to support all women around the world in their struggle against violence.

Together we can end male violence.
Together we can end male violence.
Marching to Trafalgar Square
Marching to Trafalgar Square

Next year’s theme is Womanist Revolution. The march will take place on March 8th in Central London. Save the date if you’d like to be involved!