Varsity women leaders tipped on rights

Health Development Initiative (HDI) last week conducted training for guild ministers in charge of gender from various varsities on women’s rights concerning pregnancy, contraception and abortion.

Aflodis Kagaba, the executive director of HDI, noted that the training for young women leaders in varsities was meant to address abortion as a human rights issue in the Rwandan context of access to abortion services and post abortion guidelines.

“We want to reach out to young women who are potential beneficiaries of the current legal framework and we believe that gender guild ministers are very instrumental in this area because of their daily work which involves reaching out to young women,” he said.

“We want them to have enough information about contraception, family planning and what is stipulated by the law so that they can sensitise their peers, provide information and be able to link them to available services,” Kagaba added.

The workshop featured open discussions on the subjects of abortion, contraception and family planning in the context of the Rwanda Penal Code and the Maputo Protocol as well as the guidelines of the Ministry of Health.

Christian Garuka, the HDI’s legal advisor, noted that it was crucial for the student leaders to have more information about the Penal Code review as regards abortion so that they can be involved in the amendment process.

“It was an opportunity to highlight their roles as gender ministers since abortion is a human right issue, once they have more information about what the law provides for, they can play their rightful roles in terms of advocacy.” he said.

Alex Nsayinzoga, from the Rwanda Biomedical Centre, noted that exemptions for abortion require legal permission.

“Many women die during abortion yet there are so many ways to avoid such deaths. Women can also use contraceptives which is also a human right.

‘‘We also need to sensitise women that one requires permission from the courts of law before carrying out an abortion,” he said.

HDI is a non-profit organisation that works to build sustainable alliances between the community and professional health care providers, as well as to empower providers to better educate and serve their communities.