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Empowering Communities through World Contraception Day Celebration

Ihorere Munyarwanda Organization (IMRO) recently marked the International World Contraception Day (WCD) with a series of impactful activities aimed at raising awareness and promoting access to contraception. WCD, celebrated annually on September 26th, focuses on empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, advocating for family planning, and enhancing the availability of contraceptive methods.

Pre-WCD Activities: Building Momentum

Leading up to the celebration, IMRO spearheaded various initiatives to amplify the message of WCD within the Rwandan community. These initiatives included the production of visibility materials such as T-shirts, files, and promotional materials with the National Theme and related messages. Additionally, IMRO organized radio and TV spots to announce and promote the WCD celebration, engaging with popular channels like RBA (TV & Radio) and its community radios.

A robust social media campaign was also launched on Twitter and the official website, utilizing the hashtag #WCD2023 to maximize reach and engagement. These efforts set the stage for the main event and ensured that the message of family planning and contraception reached diverse audiences.

Celebration Activities: Building Healthy Communities

Under the theme “Build Healthy Communities and Sustainable Development through Promoting Contraception Use,” the celebration unfolded with an opening address by the Mayor of Nyamasheke district. The Mayor highlighted the challenges faced by the district, emphasizing the importance of improved health standards and increased accessibility to contraceptive services. The Mayor expressed gratitude to President HE Paul Kagame and acknowledged the support of various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), UN representatives, and partners in advancing healthcare in the region.

Speakers Advocate for Family Planning

Various representatives and leaders from different organizations delivered insightful speeches during the celebration. The overarching message emphasized the vital role of family planning in fostering healthier lives and sustainable development. The challenges of low family planning utilization were attributed to the limited availability of contraceptives, prompting a call to examine regulations hindering adolescents’ access to family planning methods.

Closing Remarks: A Unified Call to Action

The event concluded with the Director of Health for Nyamasheke district expressing gratitude for the collective efforts and encouraging continued support for family planning. The importance of comprehensive information on family planning and the need for increased awareness were highlighted. The Director officially closed the event, emphasizing the essential role of health in overall development.

IMRO extends sincere thanks to all participants, speakers, and collaborators for their contributions to the success of the World Contraception Day celebration. The organization remains committed to advancing reproductive healthcare and building healthier communities globally.

Transformative Training on Safe Abortion Empowers Medical Doctors & Healthcare Professionals

In a significant effort to advance reproductive healthcare, the International Medical Relief Organization (IMRO) organized a groundbreaking Values Clarification and Attitudes Transformation Training for Medical General Doctors Practitioners on Safe Abortion. This four-day training, held at the Grand Legacy Hotel from November 28th to December 1st, 2023, aimed to equip medical professionals with a profound understanding of safe abortion and its crucial role in reproductive healthcare.

Purpose of the Training: The primary goal of this training initiative was to provide 21 medical general doctors practitioners from various hospitals and 5 staff members from consortium members (IMRO, HDI, RNGOF, GLIHD, Strive Foundation Rwanda, and MDFC) with a clear understanding of safe abortion and its importance in reproductive healthcare. The training focused on disseminating information on the human rights perspective of abortion, dispelling myths and misconceptions, and promoting an understanding of the legal and policy frameworks surrounding abortion. The ultimate objective was to increase tolerance and reduce stigma among staff members towards those seeking abortion services.

Opening Ceremony: The event commenced with a warm welcome from Rosine Izabayo, representing Aimable Mwananawe, the Executive Director of IMRO. Melina Gaju served as the moderator for the training, emphasizing the importance of acquiring and applying knowledge gained from top trainers in Values Clarification and Attitudes Transformation (VCAT) on Safe Abortion.

Rosine Izabayo

Melina Gaju

Dr. Lawrence, speaking on behalf of RBC, underscored the positive impact of VCAT training on the nation. He highlighted the potential for medical practitioners to offer secure abortion services, addressing critical issues such as maternal fatalities, unintended pregnancies, and the overall improvement of women’s well-being. Emphasizing the collective responsibility in addressing safe abortion, Dr. Lawrence officially opened the training.

Dr. Lawrence

Chris from HDI emphasized the training’s objective to underscore key factors contributing to abortion as a focal point, including maternal deaths, limited information, and poverty. He urged medical practitioners to familiarize themselves with policies and laws related to safe abortion, addressing issues of unprofessionalism, myths, beliefs, morality, and ethics. Chris concluded with a hope that participants’ values would be transformed, emphasizing the essential role of respecting laws within the legal framework.

Chris from HDI

Training Sessions Highlights: The training covered a comprehensive range of essential topics related to safe abortion. Sessions included exploration of legal frameworks on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and safe abortion, discussions on international and regional human rights and policy frameworks, and addressing barriers to safe abortion.

Me John Mudakikwa, on day one, delved into legal frameworks on SRH and safe abortion, emphasizing the importance of ensuring legal protection and access to safe abortion services. He covered international and regional human rights standards, highlighting the significance of the Maputo Protocol and global soft law agreements.

Me John Mudakikwa

Facilitator Mporanyi Theobald, on days 2, 3, and 4, examined the epidemiology of unsafe abortion in Rwanda. The training engaged participants in thought-provoking discussions around values and ethics on safe abortion, using the social-ecological model to understand multifaceted aspects influencing decision-making. Participants actively participated in exercises such as the “Four Corners,” which explored diverse perspectives on SRHR and safe abortion.

Mporanyi Theobald

Closing Ceremony: The closing ceremony began with a recap for attendees who were not present for all four days, followed by summaries of the training sessions. Dr. Amiel from GLIHD summarized content related to the legal framework on safe abortion and VCAT sessions. Aimable from IMRO expressed gratitude to participants for their active involvement.

Aimable from IMRO ED

Dr. Lawrence, acting as the guest of honor on behalf of RBC, commended participants for wholeheartedly engaging in the training. He emphasized the need for participants to ensure the proper provision of Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC), highlighting its inclusion of psychological and essential elements. Dr. Lawrence urged participants to champion HIV prevention and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and officially concluded the training session.

In closing, IMRO extends heartfelt thanks to all participants, trainers, and collaborators for contributing to the success of this transformative training. The organization remains committed to advancing healthcare knowledge and promoting comprehensive reproductive healthcare services globally. For further insights, explore the detailed activity report.

Empowering Staff through Values Clarification and Attitude Transformation (VCAT) Training on Safe Abortion

Grand Legacy Hotel, May 16th-19th, 2023

In an endeavor to enhance knowledge and foster collaboration, a four-day Values Clarifications and Attitudes Transformation (VCAT) training on Safe Abortion was conducted at the Grand Legacy Hotel from May 16th to May 19th, 2023. The event brought together 26 staff members from various consortium members, including IMRO, HDI, RNGOF, GLIHD, Strive Foundation Rwanda, and MDFC. Emmanuel Mugabarigira moderated the training, with welcome remarks from Aimable Mwananawe, the Executive Director of IMRO.

Topics Covered During the Training:

The comprehensive training covered crucial topics related to safe abortion, commencing with an examination of the epidemiology of unsafe abortion in Rwanda. On day one, Mr. Tom Mulisa delved into legal frameworks on sexual and reproductive health, emphasizing the international and regional human rights and policy frameworks. The importance of standards, the Maputo Protocol, General Comment No 22, and the Maputo Plan of Action were highlighted. Sessions also addressed barriers to safe abortion and strategies for implementation.

Days 2 to 4, facilitated by Mr. Mporanyi Theobald, focused on values and ethics, utilizing the social-ecological model and the “Four Corners” exercise to deepen understanding. Comprehensive abortion care (CAC) was emphasized as a holistic approach, and participants enhanced their knowledge, communication skills, and advocacy efforts. Community engagement strategies, counseling importance, and advocacy for reproductive healthcare services were discussed.

Expectations and Closing:

Dr. Kagaba, the Executive Director of HDI, expressed expectations for participant comfort, active engagement, and free expression of thoughts. The training aimed at self-assessment and knowledge enhancement.

During the closing ceremony, Fiston from GLIHD summarized legal framework content, and Yassina from RNGOF summarized VCAT sessions. Aimable from IMRO expressed gratitude for active participation, emphasizing the training’s goal to empower staff collaboration. Nooliet, representing RNGOF, thanked IMRO and encouraged participants to apply their knowledge. Dr. Janvier, representing RBC, highlighted reproductive health’s importance and commended consortium efforts.

Dr. Janvier officially closed the training, expressing RBC’s commitment to collaboration and participants’ responsibility to disseminate acquired knowledge.

In conclusion, the VCAT training marked a significant step toward fostering understanding, reducing stigma, and promoting access to safe abortion services. The consortium’s collective dedication and the commitment of participants reflect a shared vision for a healthier future in Rwanda.

Empowering Communities: IMRO Rwanda’s HIV Prevention Campaign in Muhanga District

Introduction: In a concerted effort to advance HIV prevention and community engagement, IMRO Rwanda recently orchestrated a vibrant campaign in Muhanga District. This multifaceted initiative seamlessly integrated a football match, HIV testing, and condom distribution, creating an interactive platform to disseminate essential messages on HIV prevention.

Activity Details:

  1. Football Match Participants:
    • Teams representing diverse segments of the community engaged in a spirited football tournament.
    • Participants included the Rwanda National Police, District Stakeholders, Taxi Moto Drivers, and Muhanga Youth Volunteers.
    • The friendly competition aimed to foster camaraderie, community spirit, and relay crucial health messages.
  2. HIV Testing and Condom Distribution:
    • Simultaneous with the football match, an HIV testing and condom distribution initiative unfolded.
    • A total of 161 individuals voluntarily underwent HIV testing, with one person testing positive. Immediate referral ensured commencement of Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.
    • An impressive 20,424 condoms were distributed to promote safer practices within the community.
  3. Championship Outcome:
    • The Muhanga Youth Volunteers Team emerged victorious in the football championship, showcasing teamwork, sportsmanship, and community engagement.

Outcomes: The campaign achieved success on multiple fronts. The football match, beyond providing entertainment, served as an effective conduit for disseminating HIV prevention messages to a diverse audience. The substantial turnout for HIV testing indicates a positive community response, with one individual promptly identified and referred for necessary care.

Recommendations: Building on this success, IMRO Rwanda advocates for the continued implementation of mass campaigns, specifically targeting key population groups like Female Sex Workers (FSWs) and Men who have Sex with Men (MSM). These campaigns should focus on enhancing HIV knowledge and encouraging the utilization of HIV services, particularly in the post-COVID-19 period.

Conclusion: IMRO Rwanda’s HIV prevention campaign in Muhanga District demonstrated the effectiveness of combining sports, community engagement, and health services to convey crucial messages on HIV prevention. Integrating testing and condom distribution within a community event exemplifies the potential for holistic approaches to public health initiatives. Ongoing efforts in this direction are indispensable for sustaining community awareness and engagement in HIV prevention activities. IMRO Rwanda remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering healthier communities through innovative and inclusive interventions.

🏆 In a thrilling conclusion to the World AIDS Day (WAD) championship, the Muhanga Youth Volunteers triumphed over Muhanga District Staff, with the spirited support of IMRO Rwanda campaign.

The #WADChampions showcased exceptional teamwork and dedication, underscoring the significance of community engagement in HIV awareness. This victory not only celebrates athletic prowess but also highlights the collaborative efforts of organizations and individuals in promoting HIV prevention and community unity. 🌟⚽

                                           “Spectators observing the football match.”

                                “Individuals assembled for HIV testing and the retrieval of condoms.”

Fostering Collaboration: IMRO Rwanda’s Quarterly Stakeholder Coordination Meetings

Introduction: In the pursuit of addressing the unique challenges faced by key populations in Rwanda, IMRO Rwanda has championed an innovative approach to stakeholder collaboration. With a specific focus on the elevated HIV prevalence rates among Female Sex Workers (FSWs) and LGBTIQ+ Communities in Muhanga, Ruhango, and Rubavu Districts, IMRO Rwanda initiated quarterly stakeholder coordination meetings at the decentralized level. These gatherings serve as a crucial platform for informed dialogue, collaborative strategizing, and proactive efforts to combat stigma and discrimination.

Methodology: The quarterly stakeholder coordination meetings were meticulously organized in collaboration with the National HIV Program and local health authorities. Diverse participants, including representatives from district stakeholders, healthcare providers, local law enforcement, and key population group representatives, actively contributed to these engaging sessions. The structured format of the meetings provided a conducive environment for stakeholders to discuss pressing issues such as HIV prevalence rates, barriers to healthcare access, and innovative strategies to combat stigma and discrimination.

Results: The quarterly stakeholder coordination meetings have yielded impactful results, emphasizing the necessity for persistent efforts to enhance HIV testing and treatment rates among FSWs and LGBTIQ+ Communities. Key outcomes include:

  1. Enhanced Collaboration:
    • Strengthened collaboration and coordination among stakeholders for more effective and targeted interventions.
    • Improved communication channels between various stakeholders to streamline efforts in addressing key population issues.
  2. Heightened Awareness:
    • Increased awareness and comprehension of key population issues among diverse stakeholders, including district representatives, healthcare providers, and local law enforcement.
    • Greater understanding of the multifaceted challenges faced by key populations in accessing healthcare services.
  3. Empowerment of Stakeholders:
    • Empowered stakeholders to identify gaps and challenges in the existing approach to key population issues.
    • Facilitated the formulation of strategies to overcome obstacles and enhance the impact of interventions.

Impact: The quarterly stakeholder coordination meetings have played a pivotal role in addressing complex issues related to key populations in Muhanga, Ruhango, and Rubavu Districts. The impact includes:

  1. Effective Collaboration:
    • Strengthened collaboration has led to more targeted interventions, ensuring that resources are utilized efficiently to address key population issues.
  2. Increased Awareness:
    • Greater awareness among stakeholders has resulted in a more informed and sensitive approach to the unique challenges faced by key populations.
  3. Strategic Formulation:
    • Stakeholders are now equipped to identify and strategically address gaps and challenges, fostering a more proactive and systematic approach.

Conclusion: The success of the quarterly stakeholder coordination meetings underscores the importance of ongoing collaboration and dialogue in addressing key population issues. IMRO Rwanda remains committed to sustaining these efforts, recognizing the necessity of regular coordination to navigate the dynamic landscape of challenges faced by FSWs and LGBTIQ+ Communities. By reinforcing stakeholder capacity and maintaining a focus on collaboration, IMRO Rwanda aims to continue making a meaningful impact on the well-being and health outcomes of key populations in Rwanda.

Coordination meeting in Rubavu District

Coordination meeting in Muhanga District

Coordination meeting in Ruhango District

Presentations from IMRO Program Director

Empowering Communities: IMRO Rwanda’s Community-Led Monitoring Training for FSWs and LGBTIQ+ Community

Introduction: In its unwavering commitment to an inclusive healthcare system, IMRO Rwanda recently conducted a groundbreaking training program for key population peer educators. This initiative aimed to empower Female Sex Workers (FSWs) and Men who have Sex with Men (MSMs) through the implementation of Community-Led Monitoring Tools. The training sessions, held in Ruhango, Muhanga, and Rubavu, showcased IMRO Rwanda’s dedication to fostering a healthcare landscape that addresses the unique needs of marginalized communities.

Training Components: The training program encompassed a comprehensive array of tools designed for community-led monitoring. These included:

  1. Final Tool – FSWs and MSMs Screening Form:
    • Emphasized the initial identification of key populations.
    • Detailed questions for a comprehensive screening process.
    • Facilitated systematic categorization for targeted interventions.
  2. Tool for FSWs & MSMs Weekly Sessions:
    • Focused on planning and conducting engaging educational sessions.
    • Provided guidance on creating informative sessions to build trust.
    • Emphasized the importance of regular interaction for sustained support.
  3. FSW & MSMs Referral Form:
    • Highlighted the significance of timely and appropriate referrals.
    • Outlined a structured referral process for essential services.
    • Promoted collaboration with healthcare providers and support organizations.
  4. Final M&E Reporting Tool FSWs & MSMs:
    • Ensured a systematic approach to monitoring and evaluation.
    • Facilitated the collection of key data points for impact assessment.
    • Encouraged continuous improvement through feedback and analysis.
  5. FSWs and MSMs Data Collection Tool for Community:
    • Equipped peer educators with tools for gathering community-level data.
    • Focused on trends, challenges, and successes within key populations.
    • Strengthened the capacity for evidence-based decision-making at the community level.

Training Methodology: The training methodology adopted was dynamic and inclusive, ensuring a comprehensive learning experience. Key features included:

  1. Hands-On and Interactive Workshop:
    • Conducted through practical exercises, case studies, and group discussions.
    • Facilitated participatory learning for real-world application.
  2. Innovative Approaches:
    • Integrated multimedia presentations, scenario-based simulations, and interactive role-playing exercises.
    • Aimed to captivate participants, enhance retention, and encourage active participation.
  3. Peer Learning Networks:
    • Established a peer-to-peer learning network for ongoing knowledge exchange.
    • Encouraged sharing of experiences, insights, and best practices.
  4. Continuous Feedback Mechanism:
    • Incorporated regular feedback sessions to adapt to participants’ evolving needs.
    • Ensured the training remained responsive and effective.

Key Outcomes: The tangible outcomes of the training program included:

  • Demonstrated proficiency in using monitoring tools by peer educators.
  • Increased awareness of challenges faced by FSWs and MSMs.
  • Improved collaboration between peer educators and healthcare providers.
  • Enhanced community-led monitoring capabilities for effective intervention.

Participant Demographics: The participants exhibited diversity in age, gender identity, and geographical representation:

  1. Age Range:
    • FSWs: Aged 18 to 40, reflecting diverse life experiences.
    • LGBTIQ+: Aged 18 to 32, capturing the specific dynamics of this community.
  2. Gender Identity:
    • Diverse representation including female sex workers, gay, bisexual, transgender, and lesbians.
  3. Geographical Representation:
    • Participants from Muhanga, Ruhango, and Rubavu, providing regional perspectives.

Conclusion: IMRO Rwanda’s Community-Led Monitoring Training has equipped key population peer educators with essential tools and knowledge. By empowering community leaders, this training contributes to a more informed, inclusive, and responsive healthcare system for FSWs and MSMs in Rwanda. IMRO remains steadfast in its mission – Implementing Measures for Results and Organizing communities for a healthier and more equitable future.

CLM Training with FSWS Peer Educators in Muhanga District

CLM Training with LGBTIQ+ Peer Educators in Muhanga District

CLM Training with FSWS Peer Educators in Ruhango District

CLM Training with LGBTIQ+ Peer Educators in Ruhango District

CLM Training with FSWS Peer Educators in Rubavu District

CLM Training with LGBTIQ+ Peer Educators in Rubavu District

CSOs in Justice and Human rights rejoice excellent collaboration with gvt institutions

By Safi Emmanuel

Civil Societies Organizations which focus their activities on justice and human rights celebrate excellent relationship with government institutions in terms of curbing the issues that affect negatively the citizens.

Testimonies were shared by different members of CSOs, who attended the training organized by Ihorere Munyarwanda Organization (IMRO) in 11 districts across the Country, through a three year project “Strengthening Rwandan Civil Society Organizations’ Capacity to Influence Policy in Justice Sector”.

Unlike previous years, currently CSOs are considered to be the best partner of public institutions rather than being seen as “critics” of government’ weaknesses and hurry to report to their donors.

According to Charlotte Mukandugutse, policy and legal advisor at IMRO, this project, which is at the endline was initiated to identify justice sector CSOs by showcasing and timely report their activities which result the elimination of “mistrust between CSOs and Government that was persistent and hinder the sustainable socio-development of the citizen, who, both CSOs and Government declare to serve” She said.

She went saying that, the main objective of the project was successfully achieved during these three years.

Identifying CSOs, eliminating mistrust among CSOs and government, enhancing CSOs coalition as well as increasing capacity building of CSOs in justice and human rights were their main concern while initiating the project.

According to Mutaganda Fabien, a consultant on the role of CSOs “ No outstanding socio-development can be achieved without the inclusion of CSOs, Government and Private Sector, the trio is the major sectors towards development once, each of them plays its role effectively and efficiently, these are three pillars that should always stand together, once one is weak or does exist,  citizen’ development cannot be attained” He urged the participants while training them on how to conduct an effective advocacy.

The major role of CSOs is to monitor government actions and provide for advice, empowering and educating citizens in decision making and ensuring service delivery to citizen is effective.

Nsengumuremyi Aphrodis, Director of Irere Urere Organization in Muhanga District said that, lack of coalition among CSOs is a big challenge, though he welcomes public institutions’ efforts in strengthening and collaborating with CSOs.

“The District frequently support us in action planning, the challenge comes in when each organization implements their own activities which result duplication of works. This training helps us to understand the role of coalition while carrying out advocacy which also reduces the loss of budget which can be spent on duplicated activities” He said adding that,

“I appreciate this training as now I am equipped with the skills of how to conduct effective advocacy, because sometimes we could fail to reach our goals due to lack of basic knowledge of how to analyze policy brief and position paper, which are the main tools to take into account while preparing advocacy-related activities”

Frequent issues that affect citizens, according to CSOs members include; lack of awareness on their rights, land disputes, domestic violence, and poor service delivery, among others.

Jane Umutoni, Vice mayor of Rwamagana District in charge of Social affairs recognizes the achievements made through IMRO project.

“We appreciate IMRO with their coalition by initiating this activity, CSOs are non –governmental organizations but support government, we recognize that.  Not only do they help us to know some issues and problems of our citizens, and not only do they help us to identify them but also, they support us in seeking for solutions” She said during a press interview.

According to Umutoni, CSOs criticism should not be taken as a negative compliment, rather, it should be considered as the best approach of correcting adjusting the problem.

“ Our view is that, once CSOs criticize something inappropriate, they want to seek for solutions, they reach out to the community, if they notify us on unsuitable issues, it is our duty to correct them” She added.

Jane Umutoni, Vice mayor of Rwamagana District in charge of Social Affairs.

The project  “Strengthening Rwandan Civil Society Organizations’ Capacity to Influence Policy in Justice Sector” was initiated in 2018 and ends in 2022 thanks to the coalition of Ihorere Munyarwanda, Great Lakes Initiative for Human Rights Development (GLIHD), Health Development Initiative (HDI) and Rwanda NGOs Forum for HIV and Health Promotion (RNGOF) which the best example of strength of coalition.

Some of the challenges faced by CSOs include; lack of self-identification as duty-bearers, poor understanding of CSOs on their advocacy and service delivery roles, unclear monitoring and evaluation mechanism of the CSOs from MINALOC down to the District level, to mention few.

JRLOs, CSOs reveal success, gap in strengthening Rwanda’s justice sector

Justice, Reconciliation, Laws & Order Sector Strategies (JRLOs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in justice sector have revealed the constraints and success made during a three- year project “Strengthening Rwanda Civil Society Organization ‘capacity to influence policy.

It is a project that was initiated and implemented by Ihorere Munyarwanda (IMRO), Health Development Initiative (HDI), Great Lakes Initiative for Human Rights and Development (GLIHD) and Rwanda NGOs Forum for HIV/AIDS and Health Promotion in 12 Districts of Rwanda.

The project that is phasing out in June 2022, aimed at decreasing the mistrust and misconception of some government officials who consider CSOs as organizations that work for their own and donors’ interests by negatively reporting different issues of the country in which they operate.

Charlotte Mukandungutse, the project coordinator revealed that after meeting and deeply sharing ideas with the CSOs and JRLOs members, a significant improvement has been made and there is a reason to celebrate despite some challenges in justice and human rights sector in Rwanda.

CSOs members revealed their pride as the project has increased the awareness of mind-set change and stereotypes that these organizations are disguised in helping poor and vulnerable people while their real hidden agenda is to tarnish the image of the country to please their donors and sponsors.

“This is now three years of this project implementation, there is still poor cross-collaboration but we have realised some positive changes where government actors no longer consider us as rivals and tools of donors whose aim is to negatively criticize and report negative issues of our country, thanks to this project they understand that we are here as partners to help government achieve its goals and objectives. We all work for the interests of the citizen, this is one of the major achievements we are proud of and wish to increase for the betterment of the citizens’ rights and justice”. She said.

Kabera Nyiraneza Ange, Civil registrar officer of Rwezamenyo Sector, Nyarugenge District said that JRLOs and CSOs have still a huge task of educating Rwandan citizens on legal procedures, otherwise social economic development will hardly be attained.

“Citizens in our society do not have high understanding on judicial process, even when, as leaders try to help them legally, some of them show dissatisfaction by seeking higher officials. At this stage they spend most of their time for instance resisting executed trials and they end up in extreme poverty because they do not have time to work for their families” She said.

CSOs organization desire to have a significant contribution in justice sector priorities at the District level within imihigo to tackle the issues that negatively affect the achievement of justice and human rights.

 

According to Jean de Dieu Nkurunziza, Civil Registrar of Nyamirambo Sector, the meeting leaves an exercise for both government authorities and CSOs to fulfil their duties and improve on.

“I appreciate this meeting, I have gained more about how CSOs operate in the interests of our citizens. But, we are challenged by over tasks which results in not fully fulfilling our duties of deeply educating our people we were employed to serve, that is why most of them tend to take their complaints to high level officials” He noted.

Cresence Mukantabana, Executive Director of Réseau de Development des Femmes Pauvres au Rwanda and Vice-president of Nyarugenge District Joint Action Forum (DJAF), the project has contributed in reducing this mistrust because, both government and CSOs work exclusively on the centre of citizens’ interests.

He appreciated the project saying: “I really tell you that Nyarugenge District recognises your contribution as CSOs, I recommend the concerned entities to sustain what you have implemented within these three years, and project phase-out should not be project mission end.” She urged the participants.

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Understanding Laws to Prevent Unsafe Abortion: CSOs Need to Increase Community Awareness

Rwanda’s Civil Society Organizations working on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) have been urged to increase awareness and conduct adequate advocacy campaigns to inform the community about safe abortion.

Unsafe abortion is defined as a procedure for terminating an unwanted pregnancy either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment lacking minimal medical standards or both.

The call was made by Stakeholders in health sector of Rwanda this month in Kigali during an extra-ordinary training of CSOs working on SRHR with the aim to strengthen their network in order to build a strong voice.

The training was organized By Ihorere Munyarwanda Organization (IMRO) in collaboration with its partner organizations under the same coalition namely: Rwanda NGOs Forum on AIDS and Health Promotion, Health Development Initiative (HDI) and Great Lakes Initiatives for Human Rights Development (GLIHD).

Dr Anicet Nzabonimpa, Senior Expert in Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights urged trained CSOs to first of all understand the SRHR national legal framework while raising awareness to the community.

Dr Anicet Nzabonimpa, Senior Expert in Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights.

“Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights are the fundamental Human Rights, for the CSOs to perform their awareness and advocacy activities at a higher level, they need to understand the existing laws to be able to explain better what they understand.” Nzabonimpa said.

Izere Mugeni Vedastine, SRHR Coordinator at GLIHD is one of the trained members of CSOs, she applauded the government for all that have been done in the protection and promotion of human rights in Rwanda including health rights.

Even though, some challenges persist; lack of knowledge on SRHR information and services, mind-set of some Rwandans who get explained about the laws and ignore to abide by them due to the culture and faith.

Izere Mugeni Vedastine, SRHR Coordinator at GLIHD.

She said that unsafe abortion is still an issue not only in Rwanda but, worldwide, giving an example of teenage pregnancy that is on the rise.

“When we assess the situation on the field and meet different beneficiaries, they do not have information on SRHR especially young people and some of those who know them use them differently due to the interests they have behind, as a result young adolescent girls become pregnant unwillingly and most of them end up putting their lives at a high risk by carrying out unsafe abortion.” Mugeni noted.

She said that they will manage to get fruitful results once they increase efforts in teaching the law and sharing the information to all the categories of the community including parents, children, youth, as well as teachers, child care givers and faith based organizations in collaboration with other CSOs working in this health sector.

Pursuant to the new constitutional provisions, women including girls below 18 years have a right to terminate a pregnancy before it is 22 weeks old, under certain conditions including: in case the pregnant person is a child, rape cases, incest or in case of forced marriage as well as where the pregnancy is a risk to the health of the woman or the fetus.

Rose Umutesi, Executive Director of Younger Women Mentors Network (YAWMNet) said that lack of information on SRHR among the adolescents will end when CSOs link up efforts.

Rose Umutesi, Executive Director of Younger Women Mentors Network (YAWMNet).

Adolescents do not have information on their body functioning; the culture is also still limiting parents to tell children about sexual and reproductive health, the digitization of information is also spreading myths and facts on social media, and youth rely on it because no one else has taught them in this regard, poverty also accelerates youth to live a life beyond their financial capacity, the combination of these issues hinders the progress.” she said.

IMRO Trains Journalists on SRHR reporting

Local Media practitioners have gained knowledge on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights legal framework in order to deliver harmonized messages on safe abortion.

The training that was prepared by Ihorere Munyarwanda Organization (IMRO)Rwanda in collaboration with Health Development Initiative (HDI), Rwanda NGOForum on Aids and Health Promotion and the Great Lakes Initiative for Human Rights and Development (GLIHD) has on its first session gathered 15 journalists from different media houses with the aim to deliver harmonized messages on safe abortion.

The two-day training started on May 17, 2021 and was concluded on May 18, 2021, having over 30 journalists trained in two sessions to comply with Covid-19 prevention measures.

Aimable Mwananawe, IMRO National Coordinator mentioned that this training will increase awareness of media professionals on the current legal framework on access to safe abortion and family planning status in Rwanda.

Aimable Mwananawe, IMRO National Coordinator/ Photo by Elias.H

“We wanted to further capacity of different institutions and we started to train Civil society organizations on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and now is the round of media, journalists are the important workforce to Rwandan society to quickly spread the information to the entire community so, we decided to equip them with the knowledge on SRHR on both technical and legal frameworks on safe abortion so that they are enabled to report accurate and evidence-based information.” Mwananawe noted.

He said that the existing advocacy is emphasizing on adolescents so that they grow up knowing the rights and legal provisions on safe abortion.

Emmanuel Mugisha, the Executive Secretary of Rwanda Media Commission (RMC) who participated to this session as a trainer said it is vital to equip journalists with knowledge on the legal framework for them to report on such sensitive SRHR topics.

Emmanuel Mugisha, the Executive Secretary of Rwanda Media Commission (RMC).

“Having media professionals equipped with accurate information on SRHR and the fight against GBV will enable a good flow of information to the public.” Mugisha said.

Mugisha reminds Journalists especially those working on You Tube Channels to abide by professional ethics while reporting on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights.

One of the objectives of this training is to increase public awareness of women’s need for safe abortion, in order to increase public understanding and support.

The Rwandan law provides that a woman is allowed to terminate a pregnancy of up to 22 weeks under 5 conditions that include the pregnancy being a result of rape, forced marriage, incest, or if the mother or baby are at health risk.

Slightly over a year after Rwanda changed the law on abortion, the number of women seeking to carry out the procedure appears to have increased.

Erphase Karamage, the in charge of Reproductive Health, Maternal and Child Health at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) said one of the existing gaps in Sexual Reproductive Health Reporting consists of biased information.

“Journalists need to increase efforts in communicating the law on abortion so that Rwandans get to know its rationale”.

Nooliet Kabanyana, Executive Secretary of Rwanda NGOs Forum on AIDS and Health Promotion urged journalists to be strategic in their daily news reporting by not intruding privacy while informing the community about safe abortion.

Nooliet Kabanyana, Executive Secretary of Rwanda NGOs Forum on AIDS and Health Promotion./Elias.H

“Media help us to fast track awareness and mobilization of existing laws to better inform the community.” She said.

Dr. Anicet Nzabonimpa, health researcher and reproductive health expert warns adolescents to not try unsafe abortion as this can definitely affect or terminate their lives.

Dr. Anicet Nzabonimpa, health researcher and reproductive health expert.

At least 17,849 teenagers were impregnated across the country in 2016, 17,337 teenagers were impregnated in 2017 while 19, 832 teenagers were impregnated in 2018 — and from January to August 2019 alone, 15,656 teenagers were impregnated.

The recent Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey, sixth of its kind, shows that reproductive health education and teen pregnancies are still an issue among the youth.

The survey published by the Rwanda National Institute of Statistics (NISR) found that the rate of teenage pregnancies and births in Rwanda is at 5.2 per cent, having decreased from 7.3 per cent in 2014 to 2015.

Trained Journalists with Officials posing for a group photo./Elias.H