Rwanda unites to get development right for girls

Government ministers, expert organisations, NGOs and adolescent girls gathered in Kigali last week to form a new community dedicated to putting girls at the heart of Rwanda's future.

The Girl Learning Summit brought together more than a hundred people to share tools and resources aimed at delivering progress for Rwandan girls aged 10-19.

The summit featured a speech by the permanent secretary director general to Rwanda's Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Leonard Rugwabiza, who highlighted how delivering results for girls benefits the whole economy.

The summit also heard from the UN's resident co-ordinator, Lamin Manneh, on the importance of making girls a priority in the next international development goals.

Oda Gasinzigwa, the minister of gender and family promotion, said at the summit: "I would like to pledge continued government commitment in promoting a girl child through education and creating a conducive environment to enhance their full potential. 

"If you want to break the glass ceiling that blocks you from getting to the top, you must show willingness to fight for it. Therefore, girls must be part and parcel of the solution."


Girl Learning is all about the simple principle that for change to happen, girls and policy makers need to talk to each other, face to face. The three-day summit, which was co-hosted by Girl Hub Rwanda and the Gender Monitoring Office and organised by the Nike Foundation's Girl Effect University, opened up conversations between adolescent girls and those working to enable them to reach their potential. 

Sessions included PLAN Rwanda's strategies for keeping girls in school, CARE's lessons on how to enable girls to access economic assets and the Rwandan Women's Network talking about tools for tackling violence against girls and women.

"I'm really happy to see the room full of committed people working for girls in Rwanda," said the Girl Hub Rwanda country director, Kate Wedgwood.

"The opportunity we have in Rwanda is enormous. The country - particularly President Kagame - is in a unique position to make Rwanda a world leader for investing in girls."

Summit outcomes include a map of the girl-centred community in Rwanda: who is doing what for girls and what organisations need and can offer to the community to be successful. Participants also designed statements that outline the needs for girls in Rwanda post-2015. 


But what did the girls think?

Girls from Ni Nyampinga, Girl Hub Rwanda's Girl Research Unit, CARE's economic empowerment programmes and the Rwandan Women's Network were in the room throughout the summit to showcase their experience and aspirations for the future.

Ni Nyampinga journalist Gloriose Isugi said: "It's true that Rwandan girls face many challenges and obstacles, but one thing that you must remember is that they have hope.

"They hope to have a voice in their community. They hope society can support them to realise their dreams. And most importantly, they hope to build and lead Rwanda alongside women, men and boys.

"The Girl Learning Summit is the first time a girl-centred community of leaders and practitioners have come together to celebrate achievements for girls and to build networks and best practices to continue momentum for  girls.

"Now is the time to think about how you can help all Rwandan girls realise their hopes and dreams."

She's right.

Read about how Ni Nyampinga is empowering girls in Rwanda

Find out more about Girl Hub Rwanda