Make way is a consortium program that includes (FAWE AFRICA, VSO, LILLIAN FONDS (working under NUDOR), AKINA MAMA WA AFRIKA, WEMOS and The circle of Concerned Theologian Women) that is here to embrace intersectionality for health equity and justice. Under make way it’s believed that everybody including those who are most marginalized should be able to realize their sexual reproductive health and rights. These are human rights that allow people to make informed decisions about relationships their bodies, family planning, sexuality and wellbeing. However, this comes with having access to a full range of sexual and reproductive health services including detection and treatment of STIs, including HIV, choice of safe and effective contraceptive methods and positive comprehensive sexuality education.
In collaboration with FAWE Rwanda, under make way project, Hope Iwacu Initiative joins the rest of other members to implement a 5-year program whose mandate is to mobilize a critical mass of Civil Society Organizations to increasingly advocate for the rights of marginalized youth with compounded vulnerabilities so as to claim and exercise their Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). Hope Iwacu Initiative targets the youth in secondary schools and those out of school from 7 districts of (Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Kirehe, Gasabo, Rusizi, Nyamasheke and Rubavu.
SRHR safe space establishment in Rukomo sector, Nyagatare district
It’s clear that Rwanda has made enormous strides in improving retention, access and quality of education to boys and girls at all levels, and in promoting gender equality within the education system, However, a number of adolescent girls and boys continue to report lack of enough information regarding Reproductive health and rights (Comprehensive sexuality in education), behavioral guidance, and in most cases they are being trapped into child abuses, teen pregnancies, Human trafficking, among other human rights violations. There are various reasons as to why this information is not well elaborated to the adolescent learners, stated by one of the training facilitators during the 2days workshop at Rukomo sector, Nyagatare district.
Adolescent girls and boys in schools go through many typical stages that puts them at risk, like starting to seek external validation as well as independence from the family. It’s therefore critical for schools to train their teachers and learners through empowerment clubs that acts as a platform to jot out issues and allowing adolescents to suggest solutions to the difficulties that they are encountering through drama and theatre performances. These performances are expected to attract many school stakeholders including decision making bodies and decisions are documented into a school based annual action plan.
During the workshop students and teachers highlighted that sexuality within adults or between children remain a taboo in their area of work and this makes it difficult for adolescent girls and boys to make appropriate decisions regarding their sexual rights. Even though couples can often say sexual practices or behaviors, contraception and family size are discussed between husband and wife, decision making is still culturally a male’s decision.
As part of the process to support learners to clearly understand how to deal with SRHR issues with intersectional lenses, Hope Iwacu Initiative in close collaboration with FAWE Rwanda chapter established safe space clubs with the objective of empowering them and enabling them to make proper decisions in two schools of Rukomo 1 and II.
EMPOWERMENT SCHOOL CLUBS (IN AND OUT OF SCHOOL SETTING)
Empowering learners is so fundamental to economic development and poverty reduction, its therefore essentially linked to improving other development indicators, such as reduced rate of teen pregnancies, Absenteeism, drug abuse among the youth, increased rate of gender based violence and other harassments like labor and sexual exploitations among others.
The program encourages the school management to be filled with caring adolescents who have relationships with learners and who can help young people in need of assistance through the established student-centered clubs named Yewe clubs. Hope Iwacu Initiative, in the year 2018 managed to establish YEWE clubs in 10 secondary schools of Rusizi and Nyamasheke district. The program is now managed by Strive Foundation Rwanda under the support of Human Help Network (HHN).
It’s therefore important to extend the services to the refugees who are camped in Rwandan refugee camps. These refugees are considered to be in the vulnerability state provoking them to be trapped by the human traffickers and other violations. Hope Iwacu Initiative is convinced that establishing clubs in the refugee schools enables learners to share views on the issues that affects their social economic development. Besides identifying such issues, they are always in position to be part of the solutions through theatrical performances.