Champions We Rise: Building a Young Women’s Network for SRHR Activism in Rwanda

It is necessary to advance the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of young women and girls in Rwanda, where adolescent girls face tremendous challenges in relation to Sexual and Gender Based violence (SGBV), teenage pregnancies and threats to their Sexual and Reproductive Health. A factor jeopardizing young women’s and girls’ access to SRHR in Rwanda is their lack of SRHR information. As a matter, among the girls in Rwanda, 87% report having no knowledge of SRHR and 78% report having no knowledge of SGBV. Despite the fact that young women and girls in Rwanda are the most affected by the consequences of SRHR abuses such as rape, sexual coercion and forced teenage pregnancies, there is no collective mobilization and voice on SRHR issues by girls and young women in Rwanda.

Today, young women’s rights organisations working with SRHR, suffer from lack of funding, technical support and coordination. So far women, especially young women have received little support to organize themselves, strategize and voice their SRHR issues. Hence, the project will promote a bottom-up approach and assist young women in the ages 18-35 to create a young women’s network for SRHR activism. The idea to build a network has been developed by young women and girls Kvinna till Kvinna works with in Rwanda. The project will target young women since they are future of the women’s right movement in Rwanda and will be able to create a more diverse and vibrant civil society around SRHR. Just as the call Young Voices Initiative indicates, to engage young women champions in Rwanda in SRHR activism is instrumental for making sure that young voices are heard.

The project will clearly contribute to fundamental rights since access to SRHR is a basic human right for all and enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A human rights perspective will be adopted
throughout the project and civil society participation and participatory engagement will be crucial to the project. One can say that the project’s bottom-up approach starts with the last R in SRHR since Sexual and Reproductive Rights are a precondition to advance Sexual and Reproductive Health. The information on SRHR in this project will not just be a way to protect and improve young women’s and girl’s health and wellbeing in Rwanda but also a way to advance Sexual and Reproductive Rights. The advancement of SRHR is also instrumental to achieving SDG 16.