News and Stories - Girls Rights - 11th February 2021

The Youth Clubs creating change for girls in Rwanda

The Youth Clubs creating change for girls in Rwanda

With a focus on sharing vital life skills and sexual and reproductive health information, Plan International-supported Youth Clubs are helping to create change for girls in communities throughout Rwanda.

As the charity for girls’ equality, our vision is for a world where girls can unleash their full potential, and all children can thrive.

We’re committed to creating this world, where girls can finish school, find meaningful work and have a say in their communities; where they can be free from fear and violence and decide if and when they want to get married.

But today, 130 million girls aren’t in school. Almost 12 million are married every year, before they turn 18. And every year that same number of girls give birth between the ages 15-19.

Plan International supported Youth Clubs are providing safe spaces for children and young people to learn about and discuss the issues that concern them, like sexual and reproductive health. It’s also an opportunity for them to connect with and support other young people, passing on knowledge to other students through a peer education program. Projects like these are only possible because of people like you who donate to Plan International.

We’d like to introduce you to Deborah, Jeanette, Josiane and Florence, just some of the young people who are part of our Youth Clubs in Rwanda.

Deborah, 11, Gatsibo district

“The youth club here in my school plays a big role in helping me. They helped me buy a school uniform and school materials, so that I could go to school! I’m so happy when I’m at the club. I feel like a child, like all the others. I can smile, laugh and play. And it has made me feel confident. I love math and want to become a doctor so that I can contribute to social welfare and take good care of people that need help.”

Deborah, 11, had her school uniform bought by the youth club members
Deborah, 11, had her school uniform bought by the youth club members

Jeanette, 20, Bugesera District

“I have learnt that a girl, no matter what and despite having children, can have a future, can make a plan and take better decisions. I also learned about sexual reproductive health and how our bodies transform which is so helpful. Before I had no idea about how to prevent pregnancy and didn’t understand that people could use condoms.”

“I share my story with other girls and tell them to not rush, to be patient and satisfied with their lives even if they are poor. Girls now come to my home to learn and get advice from me. I could never think some years back that I would have an impact on other girls. I’m not ashamed of what I’ve gone through and I’m happy if it can help other girls make better decisions in their lives.”

Jeanette, 20, with her youngest child, 6-month-old Fistan
Jeanette, 20, with her youngest child, 6-month-old Fistan

Josiane, 17, Gatsibo district

“I joined the youth club at my school two years ago, and I have really grown since then. My self-esteem is so much better now. I became much more confident, and have no problem singing, talking and making my voice heard in front of other people anymore. I can do anything and dare to express my feelings.”

“Neither our society nor our parents have the sufficient knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and rights. That’s why the youth club is so important. It’s a place where we can express our feelings and thoughts freely, and exchange knowledge and ideas between each other.”

Josiane, 17, found her voice after joining one of the youth clubs
Josiane, 17, found her voice after joining one of the youth clubs

Florence, 17, Bugesera district

“I didn’t know anything about my body and how it develops before I joined the youth club at my school. I didn’t even know how to clean my body. I have learnt a lot now, about periods and health issues, and how to look after myself.”

“Some parents can afford to buy sanitary pads for their daughters but refuse to do so. Girls often have to go to school with no pads during their periods and feel very ashamed. Some girls even quit school because of this.”

“I wish that each girl and boy could learn about sexual and reproductive health and rights.”

Florence, 17, is a youth club member at her school in Bugesera district
Florence, 17, is a youth club member at her school in Bugesera district

These are the kind of programs you can support by joining our regular-giving program, Change for Girls.

Right now, there are over half a billion adolescent girls on the planet. These girls hold the potential to completely transform our world – for themselves, their families, their communities and the planet.

Yet the world we live in now is holding these girls back.

Gender inequality means that girls are often the first to be taken out of school, the last to be fed and the ones that suffer the most during emergencies. It also negatively impacts boys, encouraging damaging beliefs and holding them back from realising their dreams. That’s why we’re working with girls, boys, women, men and entire communities to change this. And you can help.

Thousands of Australians are  creating a  world where girls can stay in school, choose if and when they marry, find meaningful work, have a say in their communities and be free from fear and violence.  If you are already making a regular donation, thank you.  If you would like to join them you can find out more here.

 

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