2020 in a nutshell: achievements, challenges, and way forward
2020… was a unique year, to say the least; actually, it was a landmark year. It was a year full of challenges. A year marked with the COVID-19 pandemic, which dramatically highlighted how vulnerable youth especially young girls are, across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection. As the team at Empower Rwanda, we believe that responding to the pandemic is not just about rectifying long-standing inequalities, but also about building a resilient world in the interest of everyone with women at the center of recovery.
2020 was the perfect time for the organization to cement its mission of empowering the unprivileged children, youth, and women in Rwanda for their academic and socio-economic development through education, capacity building, entrepreneurship, and advocacy.
Empower Rwanda started the year by mapping and identifying the teen mothers, who would eventually be the direct beneficiaries. 110 teen mothers were identified in Rwamagana.
Given that there were many cases of teen pregnancies owing to the consequences of the pandemic, Empower Rwanda conducted counseling workshops to the beneficiaries under the theme “nduwagaciro” as psychosocial support for them to regain confidence and heal from the trauma of early pregnancies and societal stigma.
In order to help them improve their socioeconomic, Empower Rwanda conducted a capacity needs assessment to ascertain their needs. 30 teen mothers expressed the interest to return to school while 80 expressed opted for short TVET courses.
In addition, in partnership with local authorities of Rwamagana district through existing community forums, Empower Rwanda raised awareness on the issue of GBV and the need for urgent efforts to address it.
Empower Rwanda also strengthened its internal systems and worked on the development of the institution through adopting a clear strategic direction 2020 -2023.
Empower Rwanda also signed partnership agreements with various like-minded institutions. These include;
- Rwanda Bridges to Justice that offers Legal assistance to child abuse and GBV victims and advocacy for girls and women rights;
- Gasore Serge Foundation that is engaged in family transformation and early childhood development;
- Sunlight Initiative Rwanda is dedicated to supporting teen mothers with disabilities and nutrition programs.
- Kvinna Till Kvinna is an international organization as the current main funder of the organization.
The strain from the COVID-19 was immense. It impacted all aspects of our work – from running programs, planning finances, coordinating staff on how they collaborate with partners and stakeholders. However, the challenge paved the way for new opportunities and innovative ways of working in the sector
Regardless of the insufficient funds, we were compelled to redesign and pivot our activities to respond to the rapidly changing landscape that was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we questioned some of the traditional approaches, we also became creative to find the right solutions and continue delivering to our mandate. As we look forward to a new year, we will leverage technology to continue the implementation of our project activities.
Given the lockdowns and other stringent measures that affected the people, especially the young girls, we received an overwhelming number of teen mothers and young women who wanted to become direct beneficiaries. However, due to the funds and activities scope, some young girls never got the opportunity. We plan to introduce a strategy where our beneficiaries deliberately expand the societal impact to reach more young girls.
There is a need to continuously engage like-minded partners and those from different areas of intervention to combine efforts towards reducing GBV cases and child abuses, as well as boost women’s empowerment.
As Empower Rwanda, we are committed to continuing championing girls’ and women’s rights.