The Founder and Executive Director of I Matter, an organization; that seeks to end period poverty and menstrual shame; Divine Ingabire has become the first Rwandan to win the Human Rights Tulip.
The award comes with €5,000 monetary funding that goes to the project.
The Human Rights Tulip was established by the government of the Netherlands in 2008 and is intended to support human rights defenders and to help them learn from each other.
Since 2018, selected Dutch embassies have also issued a Human Rights Tulip to a local human rights defender.
At only 23, Ingabire founded I Matter to build and support a community of young and strong women after drawing experiences from a personal story growing up as an orphan and living in poverty.
Receiving the award, Ingabire said that she identified with the struggles of many girls and young women in Rwanda who fail to fully participate in society because of menstruation due their failure to afford the costly sanitary products, lack of enough reproductive health information, and social norms which fuel menstruation shame.
"It is indeed a right for every girl and woman to have access to sanitary products as well as sexual reproductive health information. What a journey! This journey can be summarized in these words. Responsibility, acceptance, embracing change and respect for humanity," she said.
She expressed her gratitude to those who have helped her on the journey to break the silence around menstruation.
Ingabire is credited for being some of the organisations that persistently pushed for the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) levied on sanitary pads, culminating into the legislation that was passed in 2019.
The Dutch Ambassador to Rwanda, Matthijs Wolters told those attending the award ceremony that Ingabire had been picked from many other entries due to the unique nature of her work.
He said that due to Covid 19 challenges, global winners will not be meeting in the Netherlands as has been the norm but a virtual introduction ceremony would be organized.
So far, I Matter has successfully supported 1,955 girls and women from 470 rural income households and hopes to continue doing so for the next five years.