Rwandan Women Rising

By Swanee Hunt
Foreword by Jimmy Carter

About the Book

When Rwandan women came together to help rescue their country after genocide, they created a model for sustainable peace and security worldwide.

In the spring of 1994, the tiny African nation of Rwanda was ripped apart by a rampage that left nearly a million dead. Neighbors attacked neighbors. Family members turned against their own. As chaos cracked open the culture, women surged into the breach. After the violence subsided—drawn by the necessity of protecting their families—they carved out unlikely new roles for themselves as visionary pioneers creating stability and reconciliation in genocide’s wake. Today, more than 60 percent of the seats in Rwanda’s elected house of parliament are held by women, a number unrivaled by any other nation. While news of the Rwandan genocide reached all corners of the globe, the nation’s recovery and the key role of women are less well known.

In Rwandan Women Rising, Swanee Hunt weaves together interviews with more than 90 women (and men)—heralded activists and unsung heroes alike—who overcame unfathomable brutality, unrecoverable loss, and unending challenges to rebuild Rwandan society. Their stories, told in their own words, demonstrate that the best way to reduce suffering and to prevent and end conflicts is to elevate the status of women throughout the world.


448 pages, 116 color illustrations
$34.95/£29.99 hardcover • ISBN: 978-0-8223-6257-9
$34.95/£29.99 e-book • ISBN: 978-0-8223-7356-8

Read an Excerpt


Their Voices

About Swanee

Swanee Hunt founded and chairs Inclusive Security, a Washington-based non-profit whose bold goal is to transform decision-making about war and peace.

Her work in this area began when, as the US Ambassador to Austria from 1993 to 1997, she hosted negotiations and international symposia focused on stabilizing the neighboring Balkan states. Her fourth book, Rwandan Women Rising (June 2017, Duke Univ. Press), explores how including women leaders enabled Rwanda to rebuild after the 1994 genocide—setting a powerful example for countries across the world.

Inclusive Security is one program of Swanee Hunt Alternatives, a private foundation she created in 1981, which also combats the demand for illegal purchased sex, supports leaders of US social movements, and advocates for political parity of women in elected office.

At Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Dr. Hunt is the Eleanor Roosevelt Lecturer in Public Policy, founder of the Women and Public Policy Program, core faculty at the Center for Public Leadership, and senior adviser to the working group on modern-day slavery at the Carr Center for Human Rights. She holds two master’s degrees, a doctorate in theology, and seven honorary degrees.

More About Swanee

Why Women?

War is on the rise. Violent extremists terrorize millions.
Refugee numbers are at an all-time high.

Women help create peace that lasts.

It’s time for a different approach to security.

Learn More




May 7, 2019 | JFK Jr Forum at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

April 27, 2018 | Talk with Helen LaKelly Hunt, author of And The Spirit Moved Them, Interabang Books, Dallas

March 9, 2018 | World Affairs Council of Maine, York Public Library, and York Diversity Forum

March 7, 2018 | Lowell Lecture, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

February 26, 2018 | Keynote, Conference on Security and Justice in Democracy, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)

February 19, 2018 | SMU Tower Center, Dallas, TX

January 19, 2018 | Embassy of Finland, Washington, DC

December 5, 2017 | Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

December 4, 2017 |  WorldBoston, Boston, MA

November 7, 2017 | Library of Congress, Washington, DC

September 11, 2017 | Book party, New York, NY

July 27, 2017 |  Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

June 26, 2017 |  US Institute of Peace, Washington, DC

June 13, 2017 |  Cambridge Forum, Cambridge, MA

June 5-12, 2017 |  Book launch, Kigali, Rwanda

May 22, 2017 |  Book party, Washington, DC

Media Coverage

“…an exceptional work of enduring consequence with a potential for positive, transformative impact.”
—Noam Shimmel, International Affairs

“an important book on a gripping topic”
The New York Journal of Books

“a good record, a good example, and motivation to young women…”
The New Times (Rwanda)

“…the stories in Rwandan Women Rising carry lessons about the importance of fostering and maintaining women’s leadership to achieve ‘enduring stability and meaningful reunification’ in conflict-ridden societies across the globe.”
The Los Angeles Review of Books

Tour Highlights

Visit to Akilah Institute

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June 2017 | Duke University Press