Generations ago, there were tasks that were a preserve for men and it was in a way taboo for women to carry out such tasks.
"Tough" activities, like masonry for instance, were purely a male business while women were left to run household chores and taking care of children.
These established cultural barriers had serious negative impact on the socio-economic lives of women as they were kept out of money-generating activities, condemning them to the status of "dependants" before their male counterparts.
However, as days went by, society changed and women acquired space in the otherwise men's field.
Pascaline Uwimana, 25, is one of those who have noticed the change and ventured in the once "no woman's land" to seize the opportunities, for the good of her personal and family's welfare.
Not many years ago, the mother of two used to carry a basket of fruits throughout Huye town looking for potential clients.
Conditions being unfavourable, she was obliged to abandon the trade and tried to look for something else that would help lift her out of poverty.
"Life on the street was really very harsh. I could hardly earn Rwf500 in a day," she recounts. Two years ago, an idea struck her, she narrates. Together with other women, they created a brick-making cooperative, which they named "Ingoro Ihuje Ababyeyi" (literary a Mothers' Palace").
Currently, the predominantly women cooperative is made up of about 20 members all involved in brick and tile production.
For Uwimana, though the work is very laborious and exhausting, it has made her life "much better than before".
Today, she attests that she earns more money and the welfare of her young family has improved greatly.
"We make more and even better bricks than some men. I personally have capacity to produce at least 500 bricks in a day," she said.
Each brick costs Rwf25 while a tile goes for Rwf 100.
"Now I earn at least Rwf 20 000 per week," Uwimana said.
She has even opened an account with a bank boasting that her current balance on the account now stands at Rwf 100 000.
"Of course, some ladies laugh at us...but we know what benefits we are getting from these activities, and we are unfazed," she says.
Members of Ingoro Ihuje Ababyeyi do everything on their own- from making bricks and tiles to mounting night guards and loading their products onto trucks to the market.
Even much older women, like Annonciata Mugirwanayo, 56, are involved in the coop's activities.
"I am not ashamed of this activity but rather I am very proud of it. It helps me to earn a living," Mugirwanayo notes.
"Women must understand that there are no natural laws regulating this or that activity on who should and who should not do it. Women, like men, have the capacities to do all jobs," Mugirwanayo observes saying the most important aspect is determination.
"What is important is determination".
55 year-old Triphine Nyirankuriza attests that brick making has contributed a lot in the increment of her income.
"I pay school fees for my children, solve other basic needs and manage to save a little money from the amount I earn. This is a step I would never have achieved had I not taken to this field," Nyirankuriza says.
The same benefits are also observed by Jeannette Muhayimana, another brick-maker. "With this activity, we have the ability to pay our premiums for mutuelle de santé (community health insurance scheme), feed and buy clothes for ourselves and our children."
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