Rural girls and women in Kayonza District on Friday celebrated the International Day of the Girl Child, highlighting various challenges that hinder their development, thereby preventing them from enjoying their rights.
During the event, suggestions were made on how best to devise new measures and programmes that may be pursued to tackle these challenges.
The event, was organised by Partners in Health/Inshuti Mu Buzima (PIH/IMB), was attended by orphans, teenage single mothers, and other vulnerable children.
According to a PIH official, Edward Shyaka, the clubs that participated were part of the Women and Girls Initiative (WGI), which is part of an adolescent girls’ empowerment programme.
WGI was founded in 2009 by Bertrand Farmer, Director of Community Health and Social Development at PIH-Rwanda.
“We know the day is celebrated on October 11, but we chose to do it today, to suit our purpose…it’s a time when we are at the peak of eliminating socio-economic and health-related barriers to education for rural girls. We are slowly but steadily reducing economic vulnerability for female youth through skills-building and micro-enterprise development,” Shyaka said.
In addition to health and life skills education, the girls receive financial support and entrepreneurial training for artisan and agricultural skills development from PIH.
The celebrations were preceded by the girls’ clubs competitions through music, dance and drama.
Marie Claire Uwimana, 19, one of the participants and winner of the competition, commended the government for the support extended to girls.
“The government, through a number of initiatives like those run by PIH, has done a great job to uplift the girl child. This Day, thus, helps us to reflect on what we should do to make the most of the available opportunities. One of them is education…believe it or not, you can never break the sequence of poverty or disease without educating girls,” she told The New Times.
The Vice Mayor in charge of Social affairs, Jean Damascene Harerimana, told the residents that the country had already made considerable progress toward millennium development goals in gender equality, women empowerment, as well as universal primary education.