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The audacious one: Umuhire the ‘female barber’ believes in daring to be different

‘Daring’ the word itself is provoking. When you hear the word dare in someone’s speech, you definitely know, things went down. In Rwandan society, we have a lot of cultural norms we go by, some old and some new and adaptable.

However, traditional gender norms can hinder young talents like Umuhire’s. Lycie Umuhire, a 22-year-old female barber working at Kigali Clipper Zone Saloon, has dared to break the norm that hairdressing is an unsuitable job for young women.

In our discussion with Umuhire, she said that hairdressing has long been a passion for her. She started it as a profession during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Before her professional career, she used to practice with her classmates, and it is when she realized she enjoyed doing it, and from there, started a professional career.

Umuhire Lycie currently works at Kigali Clipper Zone Saloon

Embarking on a career traditionally associated with men was not without its obstacles. In the early stages, Lycie faced resistance from some elders who believed she was breaking cultural norms.

The audacious girl saw this as an opportunity rather than a setback. Determined to create her own path and generate income, she viewed her work as a means to challenge societal conventions and inspire other girls to pursue their passions fearlessly.

What started as a job quickly transformed into a passion for Umuhire. Her dedication to the craft extended beyond a mere vocation as she wants to inspire others and serve as a role model for young girls aspiring to enter the field. Umuhire’s commitment and love for her work shine through in every haircut she meticulously creates, leaving a lasting impact on her clients.

Seeing female barbers in Kigali is a rare sight

She said, “This work of hairdressing is not just a hobby for me, it has become a passion. I do it as a way to inspire and set an example for other girls who want to do this job as well. I love my job, it has become like a calling to me.”

Most men did not trust her since it was something rather unusual for them. However, she know how to establish her name among people who had little faith in her. She was able to do that by having open communication and ensuring her clients are reminded of their appointments, understanding the busy schedules many men have.

By providing a personalized experience and building strong relationships with her clients, Umuhire has not only gained their trust but also forged lasting friendships and connections. Her clients recommend to others and she has built a strong clientele.

She has managed to build trust and confidence among customers

She has been able to earn a living for herself and change her life. She said, “I won’t go into specifics, but I can say that the monthly income I receive is sufficient to sustain me and meet all the demands a young woman needs.”

Being a barber in Rwanda is considered unladylike, however, this did not discourage the dynamic woman from working as the only female barber in a saloon full of men. She advises fellow young people, especially girls who want to be barbers like her to seize the opportunity, challenge gender stereotypes, and embrace the gender balance efforts being enforced in our country Rwanda.

She believes in challenging the norm

As an audacious young woman, Umuhire has ambitions to take her passion even further. In five years she wishes to have her own barber shop that has female barber workers.

She said, “From now to 5 years, I believe I will have met other young women that enjoy doing hairdressing, and we will join hands and work together, and provide great services to our clients.”

Dear youth, dare to dream, dare to break the norms, dare to pursue your passion however audacious it might be!

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