Commonwealth Point of Light 49. Mary Balikungeri
Mary Balikungeri, representing Rwanda, is the director and founder of ‘Rwanda Women’s Network’ and an activist for the rights of women and girls, particularly those affected by war and conflict.
The network is dedicated to improving the welfare and rehabilitation of women in Rwanda, working with over 52 grassroots associations across 13 districts of the country to support 4,000 women. Mary supports the psychological, social and medical needs of over 500 female survivors of sexual violence each week. She also raises awareness of gender-based violence through community initiatives which have been replicated in four centres around Rwanda, impacting over 11,000 people.
“I am deeply honoured and humbled for this outstanding recognition by Her Majesty the Queen and the Commonwealth. I am extremely grateful for all the people who have made this journey worth acknowledging. I therefore dedicate this award to the many women of Rwanda who have trusted me with their vulnerability to help rebuild their lives; funding partners and the ‘Rwanda Women’s Network (RWN)’ staff for working tirelessly to support our vision and transform the lives of women and communities. I hope that our work continues to inspire people from different walks of life to make a different in their respective communities.”
Jo Lomas, UK High Commissioner in Rwanda, said:
“Congratulations to Mary Balikungeri and the ‘Rwanda Women’s Network’ for winning the Commonwealth Points of Light Award. Her outstanding volunteerism and dedication to helping vulnerable women following the genocide is immeasurable. Her Majesty The Queen is recognising Mary’s devotion to helping over 50 grassroots associations across Rwanda, catering for over 4,000 people. Mary’s efforts have also contributed to the establishment of 20 Women’s Safe Spaces around Rwanda which provide for over 500 women per week, including victims of gender based violence. The British High Commission in Rwanda is proud to present this award for her tireless and noble work. Congratulations.”