Odette Mukazi Mutanguha is a development specialist of Rwandan descent who focuses on gender, social and peace issues. She is currently working with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in Lusaka, Zambia as a Manager and a focal point for Civil Society and Gender Mainstreaming.

Odette has over 20 years of experience in leadership and senior management positions, working with various organizations 

across the region at both a policy and grassroots level.

She has attained invaluable advocacy skills coupled with capacity building and monitoring and evaluation experience.

I did not know that I was a refugee until one day in school in Uganda. I must have been six or seven years old. We were playing a skipping rope game with teams. I was very good at it jumping up and down in my little bare feet – I did not get shoes until I was much older. My team was winning. One of the other team’s children didn’t like that. “Go back to Rwanda, you are just a refugee!” What?

I thought I was Ugandan because I was born there. I went home crying and my parents told me we were from Rwanda and it was very dangerous living there. We lost much of our family who stayed. Later, my family of 12 children and parents were displaced again in the Ugandan civil war.

Odette has vast experience and knowledge working in post conflict areas and in the peace-building and post conflict realm. The organizations she has worked for include Forum for African Women Educationalist (FAWE) Rwanda Chapter where she worked as a National Coordinator, working very closely with UN institutions such as UNIFEM, UNHCR, UNICEF UNFPA and UNAIDs. Odette has also worked with Daughters of Charity in Kampala, Uganda; International Credit Bank, Kampala, Uganda as well as the Uganda Women's Effort to Save Orphans (UWESO).

Odette holds a Masters Degree in Peace and Gender studies and a Bachelors Degree in Social Work and Social Administration. She also has a diploma in accountancy. Odette has acquired several skills over the course of her career, including: education, advocacy skills, policy formulation, review and analysis, monitoring and evaluation of projects, human rights, conflict prevention and management, election observation, women in management courses and Management of Development Organizations Courses.

During her long illustrious career, Odette has produced several publications such as Women in Conflict Situations: A case study of Rwanda (Masters Thesis.) She also published a case study on female dropout rates in Rwanda. Furthermore, Odette has prepared and developed papers on gender; women's political participation; Women, Peace and Security and Women and Employment.

Odette is an active member of various organizations including the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE Rwanda Chapter). She is the Vice President and founding member of Rwanda University Women’s Association. She is also an Executive Committee member of Profemme – Twese Hamwe, an umbrella organization encompassing all women focused N.G.Os in Rwanda. She is a member of the Rwanda Women’s Leaders Caucus and the East African Sub Regional Support Initiative. Odette is also a Member of Duterimbere ASBL (Women Entrepreneurship Promotion) and a member of the United Nations affiliated University of Peace Student Alumni Association in Costa Rica.

Odette continues to be passionate about human rights but in particular, the rights of the woman and girl child.

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