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Young girls aspire to rise against adversity

Despite having dreams and abilities to disrupt the status quo and challenge norms and biases, the girl child still faces numerous challenges that hinder them from living a fulfilled life. This is the kind of issue that Maire Ange Raissa Uwamungu has dedicated her life to solving.

Marie Ange Raissa Uwamungu is a young woman who 6 years ago, started an initiative called Impanuro Girls Initiative. She envisioned a society where women and girls have healthy and dignified lives and are meaningfully engaged in communities and economically empowered.

Impanuro Girls Initiative has brought together many young adolescent girls with diverse backgrounds to educate and empower them to be the best version of themselves.

Marie Ange Raissa Uwamungu says young women deserve to live dignified and fulfilled lives

These young girls have gone through extensive learning sessions about having a vision, values, mental health, and SRHR. Impanuro Girls Initiative partnered with the Mastercard Foundation and UNICEF Rwanda to provide the girls with the proper care and education they need.

As they celebrated the International Day of the Girl Child 2023, Marie Ange Raissa Uwamungu reflected on why the day is important to her. She said it is a moment to reflect on the challenges, dreams, and milestones she has made.

She said, “ It takes me back to the 9-year-old me who did not have any hope but 20 years later has achieved a lot. The country has many young women who also need to set more goals and have strength for them to have a dignified and fulfilled life.”

She also mentioned that it is a day to listen to young women and the challenges they face and learn from what a tailored solution would be.

She said, “This is where we sit down and listen to the challenges they have, challenges we ignore, girls with disabilities, girls hard to reach areas, girls from low-income backgrounds. This day is a day to show that all these challenges are here, to see what can we do to make sure we remove these challenges and make sure the girl child can enjoy and live a fulfilled life.”

These young women have been given capacity building to help unleash their potential

Uwase Kevine, one of the program participants believes her voice matters no matter where she is. She aspires to educate and advocate for other young girls to make a difference in their lives.

She says that biases and stereotypes are some of the challenges young girls still face today.

She said, “Sometimes they tell us that we should not be doing or studying the same things as boys.”

She advises girls to be “confident, you are a girl, there is nothing that you can’t achieve. Get your education, it is the foundation for all growth and development.”

Uwase Kevine, one of the program participants says she became confident and eager to change lives around her

Josiane who became a mother at 16 says comprehensive Sex-Ed is also crucial in empowering young women.

She said, “I got pregnant because of my friends. They told me to have relations with a boy as it would rid me of cramps.”

Her take is that the uncomfortable conversations have to happen and the stigma around them has to change.

She said, “Parents should make sure they have these conversations with their children. And don’t lose hope just because you got pregnant. There is still a bright future for you!”

Josiane says young mothers should not believe their lives are over

Young girls who are living with disabilities also face extreme stigma in many sectors. Jeanne says most people still think they are not capable. She says, “We are capable, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

These young women believe that education has been key to changing their lives and making them better. They are set to continue to fight against stereotypes, biases, and stigma.

Jeanne aspired to break the stigma around people living with disabilities
“You are able to attain all your objectives. Your dreams matter, your voice is needed. Grow and unleash your fullest potential.”
“We believe in the value of listening to young people. We want to hear from you.” – Mastercard Foundation
UNICEF Rwanda is working together with Impanuro Girls Initiative to raise mental health awareness through the Voice Up Minds initiative
The Young girls thanked Uwamungu for impacting their lives
Impanuro created a day care room where young mothers who are studying can leave their children
Young girls aspire to rise against adversity

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