In Rwanda, girls are often seen to have only two roles during their lives: daughter and then wife. Ni Nyampinga showcases a different reality: that girls are Rwanda’s greatest untapped source of economic and social growth. One way of doing this is to expose girls to positive role models who have broken through the invisible barriers holding them back. These Ni Nyampinga heroes are not only changing the way Rwanda views girls, but the way girls view themselves.
THE GIRL PROVING FOOTBALL ISN’T JUST A MAN’S GAME
Football is only for boys? Try telling that to girl hero Consolé. Her love of football has been challenged since she was a child, but that hasn’t stopped her from becoming a coach for the Rambura Women’s Football Club.
Her community, colleagues and even her family questioned why she wanted to get into a “man’s sport”. Time and again they told her she was wasting her time. But their words only made Consolé more determined to achieve her dream – a career in football.
By believing in herself instead of what other people thought she should be doing, Consolé has smashed negative perceptions of girls playing football into the back of the net. Now she coaches a team in the Rwanda Women's Football League.
Those who originally doubted her have now realised that football isn’t just a man’s game. Consolé’s community and family are benefiting from her coaching, but most importantly, she’s fulfilling her own purpose.
THE GIRL DRIVING CHANGE IN RWANDA
Honorine is literally driving change in Bugesera, as she’s the only woman to own a driving school in her community.
Without her parents’ support, Honorine wouldn’t be in the position she’s in today. They gave her the confidence to succeed and offered their forest to secure a bank loan to start up her own business. Now Honorine not only provides for her family, but her community also benefits from her success. She gives young people a new skill and even employs some of her driving graduates.
This girl hero is clear that her parents’ encouragement was the driving force in her succeeding in this male-dominated field. Everyone has a role to play in changing the way girls are viewed in society. Honorine shows the girl effect is real. If you support a girl, she will give back to her family and her whole community.
THE GIRL WHO DIDN’T GIVE UP ON LEARNING
Patience was forced to drop out of school when her parents refused to pay the fees for her education. But the idea that this was the end of her education never crossed her mind. Nothing was going to stop her from learning.
From cultivating crops to selling solar lamps, Patience took on jobs to pay for her own school fees. However, she hit another obstacle when her mother fell ill. Patience had to nurse her mother and look after her siblings, which meant her studies suffered. She failed the exam that would have kept her in school.
Despite this setback and her family responsibilities, Patience never gave up on her education and at 19 years old, she’s back at school. Her story is proof that there is no age limit for learning. Patience is an inspiration to other girls who struggle to stay in school.
THE GIRL EDUCATING THE NEXT GENERATION
She may only be 21, but Utamuriza has already changed the lives of so many girls in her community by building her own nursery school.
While travelling around Rwanda, she noticed that villages had nursery schools, whereas girls in her community had to wait until they were seven before they started school. Utamuriza couldn’t stand by and let this happen, so she started teaching six children in her parents’ home.
She’s now established her own nursery school, which currently gives 55 children the skills they need to enter primary school. At a young age, Utamuriza has played a vital role in improving her community and girls’ lives.
THE GIRL WHO WON’T LET DISABILITY HOLD HER BACK
In Rwanda, children with disabilities often face discrimination and are typically excluded from school and their communities. But 12-year-old Esther is challenging the common perception of being a disabled girl.
After being born with a leg disability, Esther often felt like an outsider but her mother and teachers encouraged her to believe in herself as she had the potential of any other child. She has used this confidence to speak up for children of her age and teach girls about reproductive health.
This would be an incredible feat for any girl, but the obstacles that Esther has had to overcome to reach this position makes her story even more inspiring. She has proved that being disabled doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of empowering yourself and other girls in your community.
ANYONE CAN BE A GIRL HERO
In Rwanda, there’s a saying that a woman’s degree is her husband. But Eric knows that a girl has more opportunities in life than just marriage, so he put pen to paper to prove it.
The 18-year-old wrote a prize-winning essay for Ni Nyampinga that challenged the belief many in Rwandan society have about girls who make their own money. Eric argued that educated girls are the solution to many of the social problems in Rwanda. He wrote, “When a girl makes money, everybody wins.”
To change girls’ roles in Rwanda, more boys and men like Eric need to use their voices to challenge negative perceptions.
By showcasing role models that are breaking down barriers for females, Ni Nyampinga helps girls believe in themselves and unlock their true potential. Find out more on how this girl-led movement is creating change in Rwanda here.