The Organization of Women in Sports (AKWOS) strongly believes that sports is a powerful tool to help tackling negative cultural norms that still hinder girls to reach their full potential. Sport in Rwanda has been and still is to some extent considered a male game. By allowing girls to participate equally in sport, especially football, norms are challenged.
Focus of the co-operation with The SOL Foundation is to reduce the danger of unwanted pregnancies by promoting sport activities as a tool to raise awareness on prevention and sensitisation.
Problem to be tackled
Teenage pregnancies are one of major social scourges in Rwanda to which the country has not yet found a possible lasting solution. Rwanda government and partners have made tremendous improvement in Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and Menstrual Health service. The government further put in place gender policies and laws, yet teenage girls remain at a high risk of getting pregnant for many reasons that also call for new action.
Teenage pregnancies in Rwanda have escalated ever since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic which rendered most people especially youth and young girls vulnerable and redundant thereby exposing them to situations of risky sexual behaviours which consequently led to teenage pregnancies.
According to data from the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) cases of teenage pregnancies in Rwanda increased by 23 per cent from 19’701 in 2020 to 23’000 in 2021. The Eastern province has the highest number of teenage mothers whereby a neighbour district of Nyagatare district registered 1’799 cases of teen mothers last year, Gatsibo 1’574, and Kirehe 1’365. All these districts are in the eastern province.
Young women who gave birth at a young age say that this is caused by lack of empowerment to make informed decisions, lack of education, financial challenges and facing sexual gender-based violence. In many cases teenage pregnancies occur to children whose parents are not closely involved in their lives at a personal level and as a result, poor parenting deprives the girls of the skills and values that would otherwise help them to live responsible lives.
AKWOS continues using sports as a platform to not only prevent teenage pregnancies but also to help teen mothers and youth to gain more knowledge on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, encourage them to go back to school and finalise their education all through engaging all the relevant stakeholders such as parents, local leaders, opinion leaders, head teachers and community health workers.
This project focuses on teen mothers aged 16 to 21. AKWOS has identified those as the most vulnerable group because of high percentage of unwanted pregnancies, which lead to health issues and stigma.
With a continued support from The SOL Foundation, AKWOS is going to further grow, improve and implement the programme and specifically add further communities to the initiative reducing the danger of unwanted pregnancies by promoting sport activities as a tool to raise awareness on prevention and sensitisation.
Organization of Women in Sports (AKWOS) is based in Rwanda; its mission is to effectively empower girls and women from Rwanda, through sports and education, as well as to contribute towards their social-economic empowerment hence improving their wellbeing and self-esteem. Its vision is to achieve a society where all forms of discrimination based on gender have been eradicated, where women participate fully in political and economic decision-making and conflict resolution and where women’s rights are respected.
Activities undertaken by AKWOS are “Peace Makers Project”, “Strengthening the role of young women in preventing and resolving conflict and peacebuilding through sports” and “Prevention of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections among young people through sport and leisure in the city of Kigali”.