The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Three Local NGOs Honoured for Promoting Women

Three organisations operating in Rwanda and dealing in issues of women and girls promotion have been listed among the top 50 global initiatives that deliver for women and girls.

The three, Akilah Institute for Women, Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) and Solar Sister, were recognised under the "Women Deliver 50" a list of 50 innovative ideas and solutions that are transforming the lives of women and girls around the world.

They were recognised by the international advocacy organisation, Women Deliver, in honour of International Women's Day, which was celebrated last Thursday, March 8.

The three of the winning solutions, some operating in different countries, have programmes in Rwanda.

The global advocacy organisation announced the compilation of the 50 most inspiring ideas and solutions after receiving hundreds of online nominations from 103 countries.

A selection committee chose 125 finalists to be voted on by the public. More than 6,000 individuals participated in the online voting.

"The solutions on this list show that with ingenuity, drive and dedication, we can build a better world for girls and women," said Jill Sheffield, Women Deliver Founder and President.

"We are proud to celebrate these organisations and programmes which are pioneering real, lasting, social change at the local and global levels. We have seen time and time again that when we invest in girls and women, entire societies benefit," she added.

The "Women Deliver 50" list showcases advocacy campaigns; health interventions; technologies; educational initiatives and leadership programs.

The initiatives, which range from grassroots to global, are led by social entrepreneurs, civil society, governments, international agencies and private companies.

SHE provides Eco-Friendly Sanitary Pads to vulnerable young girls in schools around the country.

It is estimated that every year millions of girls miss up to 50 days of school because they lack access to affordable sanitary pads during menstruation.

Speaking to The New Times, the SHE operations head in Rwanda, Julian Kayibanda, said that the recognition was received with humility, adding that it goes to all women the organisation works with on a daily basis.

"We were humbled by the recognition of the work we do and were encouraged to continue doing more to impact the lives of women and girls."

"We feel that this recognition is for all of us and the women we work with on a daily basis. We will continue building these partnerships," Kayibanda said.

According to Women Deliver, the SHE model is based in Rwanda, where 36 per cent of girls who miss school do so because of unaffordable sanitary pads.

The initiative plans to use local raw materials to create affordable and accessible sanitary pads. The organization also partners with local women's groups to provide microfinance loans and education in business, health, and hygiene.

Akilah Institute for Women, on the other hand, provides hospitality, management and entrepreneurship skills to young women.

The Akilah Institute for Women offers diploma programmes in hospitality management and entrepreneurship for Rwandan women and girls.

Solar Sister operates in Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, among other Sub-Saharan Africa countries, and provides women with the tools to bring clean energy technology, such as solar powered lamps, to their communities.

Using principles of social entrepreneurship, women are provided with training and support to create a solar micro-business, allowing for income generation and removing darkness in communities.

The Solar Sister programme has led to a 30 per cent reduction in household expenses for people who switch from kerosene, and has improved the quality of light by providing three more hours of light than kerosene, which improves safety conditions for women and enables children to study more.

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