Plan International Rwanda has signed a five-year partnership deal worth 245 million with Rwanda Women Parliamentarian Forum (FFRP) to fund a campaign whose initiatives empower girls with focus on fighting teenage pregnancies and promoting gender equality among young children.
The partnership aims at increasing awareness on issues that girls face in their daily lives and also looks at policies that can be implemented to address gender gaps among young girls by ensuring gender equality in communities.
The campaign is expected to advocate and influence delivery of real change to girl-child issues, defend girls’ rights and help girls and youth to take up power and change perceptions in order to promote the rights of girls and young women.
After signing the partnership with FFRP at the parliament last week, Marie Gladys Guerrier Archange, the Country Director of Plan International, hailed Rwanda’s impressive progress in gender equality promotion but stressed that more efforts need to be put in empowering girls, saying the partnership will be key to addressing some gaps that still exist in gender equality among the young society.
She said, “Rwanda is moving forward in terms of ensuring gender equality, but there are still hidden issues that need to be addressed. We cannot change the lives of girls without changing our attitudes and that is why we need to give girls equal opportunities in the society towards inclusive development. We want to ensure an equal society of empowered girls”
“We believe that no goal can be fully met without addressing the root causes of the marginalization and exclusion of children, unfortunately most often girls. A society cannot think of real development if everybody is not included,” she added.
For the first six months, the campaign will be implemented in three districts that normally benefit from Plan International Rwanda’s initiatives, namely Bugesera, Gatsibo and Nyaruguru, , while two more districts, Gicumbi and Kirehe, will be added later for the rest of the campaign, which targets over 3,000 teenage girls within five years.
Some of the activities expected to be done during the campaign will include educating girls, especially high school girls, on different strategies in fighting pregnancies at early age, building confidence in young girls in future decision-making, helping vulnerable girls, who dropped out of school, going back to school through school feeding programme as well as improving efficiency of the teenage girls’ safe rooms (Icyumba cy’ Umukobwa) at school.
Despite limited outreach, the programme is believed to reach a bigger number of young beneficiaries during every African Child’s Day and International Women’s Day celebrations.
Anita Mutesi, the FFRP Chairperson, said the funds will be key in achieving their targets in empowering young girls and building confidence in them to overcome different teenage challenges that mostly lead to pregnancies.
Mutesi said, “Girls are the most affected from teenage pregnancies. That is why we are focusing on building capacity in girls so they can cope with the issue. It is possible that they can find proper ways to prepare their future without passing through evil short cuts plenty of challenges leading to pregnancies”
According to available statistics, 17 000 girls under 18 years of age were pregnant in 2016.