Jeannette Nyiramongi Kagame (Jeannette Nyiramongi, born August 10, 1962) is the wife of Paul Kagame. She became the First Lady of Rwanda when her husband took office as President in 2000. The couple have four children – Ivan, Ange, Ian and Brian. Mrs. Jeannnette Kagame is the Founder and Chairperson of Imbuto Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the development of a healthy, educated and prosperous society.
Jeannette Kagame returned to her native Rwanda following the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. She has since become devoted to uplifting the lives of vulnerable population in Rwanda, particularly those of widows, orphans and impoverished families.
Mrs. Kagame hosted the first African First Ladies’ Summit on Children and HIV/AIDS Prevention in May 2001 in Kigali, Rwanda. The summit lead to the founding of the 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. Kagame later co-founded the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) in 2002. She served as OAFLA’s president from 2004 until 2006. OAFLA works to champion initiates related to economic empowerment, health and education throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. During her mandate as President of OAFLA, she along with her fellow African First Ladies initiated a continental campaign known as “Treat Every Child as Your Own”. This campaign received the John Thompson “Legacy of a Dream” Award.
Over the years, PACFA grew to include projects other than those in the HIV/AIDS domain and in 2007 Imbuto Foundation – which means “seed” in Kinyarwanda – was established. The Foundation implements various projects such as: extending basic care and economic support to HIV affected families; enhancing knowledge and changing attitudes towards adolescent sexual and reproductive health; protecting youth against HIV/AIDS; malaria prevention; motivating girls to excel in school; providing scholarships to disadvantaged youth; promoting a reading culture; mentoring and equipping youth with entrepreneurial and leadership skills.
The First Lady is also a patron of the Rotary Club Virunga, based in Kigali, which established the first public library in Rwanda in 2012. Mrs. Kagame is also a member of the board of directors for several organizations, including the Global Coalition of Women against HIV/AIDS and the Friends of the Global Fund Africa.
In 2010, Mrs. Kagame received an Honorary Doctorate, Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa from Oklahoma Christian University for her significant contribution to the worldwide fight against HIV/AIDS and poverty. In the same year, she was appointed Special Representative on Child Nutrition by the World Food Program (WFP). In 2009, UNICEF presented the Children’s Champions Award to H.E President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame in recognition of their efforts at improving the lives of children in Rwanda. In 2007, World Health Organization (WHO) appointed her the High Representative of the Africa AIDS Vaccine Program (AAVP), to ensure the active participation of African stakeholders in all areas of HIV and AIDS vaccine research and development.
Mrs. Kagame holds a degree in Business and Management Science, and has delivered keynote speeches at numerous national and international fora on various themes including leadership, economics, health, children’s welfare, and women’s empowerment.