Promoting Gender Equity in Rwanda

Kigali, Rwanda June 7, 2022- Georgia Aguilar, Lissie Elorza, Josh Harvey, Rosie Jungquist, and Lizzie Selmi.

Generation Rise (GR) is a small, nonprofit start-up organization in Rwanda, founded in 2017. Its mission is to cultivate an inspiring generation of young women leaders who are valued, equipped, and encouraged to articulate and realize their dreams for themselves and their communities, with a vision of realizing a gender-equitable world.

Her Voice Matters, a Generation Rise program, is currently offered in three different schools in rural districts of Rwanda. GR uses literature as a catalyst for women and girls to think critically about themselves and their societies so they can learn to ask questions and voice their opinions on issues that determine their futures and the futures of their communities. The program has helped equip girls with the tools they need to achieve top marks in their classes, receive scholarships and pursue tertiary education, obtain leadership positions in their communities, start a small business, and go into government and other careers.

Although Rwanda has made substantial strides in increasing gender equity efforts, historically ingrained social stigma and cultural beliefs surrounding Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) remain. Our team worked with Generation Rise to expand access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) services, increase access to SRHR education materials, and expand gender roles for young girls. Through innovative approaches and an unwavering commitment to gender equity, the program aims to deliver SRHR education and leadership guidance to promote prosperity in Rwanda, one girl at a time.

Giving girls access to quality SRHR education goes beyond the more obvious or likely effects, such as improving STI contraction rates, improving menstrual hygiene, or reducing teenage pregnancy. Comprehensive SRHR education grants girls the space to gain agency and autonomy over their bodies and livelihoods by inviting them to deliberate about issues and disparities faced in their communities and encouraging discussion-based learning. SRHR education challenges girls to think critically about the world around them and analyze how or what they can do to improve that world. SRHR education acts as a vehicle by which girls can gain the confidence needed to achieve their goals, potentially increasing gender parity in secondary school graduation rates, increasing female entrepreneurship, working to reduce social stigma, bolstering individual and familial earning potential, and lastly, but not least, reducing rates of domestic violence. Ultimately, the program can significantly influence the lives of both individuals and communities by giving young women and girls the tools, spaces, knowledge, and opportunities they need to become the highest achieving, most informed versions of themselves.

Meet Team Rwanda, a five-member GH 744 graduate student consultant team: Georgia Aguilar, Lissie Elorza, Josh Harvey, Rosie Jungquist, and Lizzie Selmi.