Rwanda: Featured - Plan International Roots for Girl Rights

Plan International Rwanda is rolling out a Rwf500 million campaign as it moves to address the challenges that undermine the rights of the girl child.

Dubbed 'Girls Get Equal (GGE) campaign' the initiative is a youth-led global social change effort which seeks to raise the global voice for advancing rights of girls and women.

Launched in Musanze District in March this year, in partnership with Imbuto Foundation, the campaign was initiated globally in 2018.

It seeks to tackle gender inequality by addressing discrimination and the stereotypes that continue to hold back the potential of women and girls in different areas such as education, health, economic and political participation.

The campaign is a culmination of several challenges identified to hinder women and girls including domestic chores, lack of exposure to role model women, teenage pregnancies and discrimination.

These hinder girls from making crucial decisions affecting their lives as well as restricting them from speaking out without threats of violence and harassment.

The campaign aims to mobilize relevant stakeholders, mainly local government authorities, policymakers, and youth and partner organisations to influence leaders increase their engagement and commitment towards girls' protection and empowerment.

It also particularly aims to call for concrete investments in women and he girl child.

According to Plan International Rwanda, gender gaps across different aspects of life result from societal norms and practices that ignore their potential and suppress their power in almost every sector.

Thus, they need safe spaces and enhanced safety to network, mobilise and speak out on what affects them.

To address all these, Plan International Rwanda plans to Rwf500 million in the campaign over the next five years.

The campaign targets all girls across the country with focus to improve their mindset towards their rights in society.

Specifically, the campaign seeks to build the capacity of girls who dropped out school to acquire vocational training skills.

At the launch of the campaign last week in Nyaruguru District, Southern Province, Jacques Bakundukize, the Program Unit Manager of Plan International Rwanda, said it will boost confidence among young girls and create responses to the violence-related challenges they face in their respective communities.

"We need everyone to be involved in this campaign until girls understand that they have equal rights to education, leadership, a powerful voice while making decisions, and at a stage where she sees herself in a position that she has all it takes to do what her brothers can do," he said.

Nyaruguru is one of the 14 districts in which Plan International runs its humanitarian operations.

Bakundukize revealed that; "young girls have already identified challenges they face in their respective communities and, through this campaign, we can work hand in hand with local administration authorities to address them."

Among the challenges identified include teenage pregnancies and limited knowledge on legal framework about laws that protect girl rights among others.

"By the end of this campaign, we want to significantly reduce cases of teenage pregnancies and we also look forward to seeing an increased number of girls in positions of influence across all sectors,"

In 2018 alone, Nyaruguru District recorded over 260 teenage pregnancies.

Collette Kayitesi, the Vice Mayor for Social Affairs in Nyaruguru District, said authorities are challenged by their limited ability to trace suspects who sexually violate girls.

This is because such cases of violence are rarely reported on time, hence calling for raising awareness about girls' rights in the Rwandan society.

"Awareness on girls' rights is very crucial towards gender equality because we have a challenge that some girls are reluctant to report on time whenever they faces violence so they can be granted justice," she said.

Plan International Rwanda says it will sustain its collaboration with Rwanda Women Parliamentary Forum (FFRP) in the driving awareness about the legal framework that seeks to tackle the challenges that affect girls.

Some Rwf5 million has been earmarked for rolling out health insurance to 1820 needy families in Nyaruguru, largely targeting families of girls who are the victims of teenage pregnancies.

Solange Yasoneye, 21, is one of the girls who completed the national service 'Urugerero Ruciye Ingando' in Nyaruguru District.

She says the lack of knowledge about their rights and poor mind-set is still a daunting challenge for

"Young girls do not have access to information about their. What we need most is trainings on girls' rights because sometimes we get subjected to violence and fail to report it because we do not have enough information," she said.

Rwanda is among the 75 countries in the world where Girls Get Equal campaign is being implemented.

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