Make Way Rwanda


Rwanda is one of Africa’s smallest countries, with  a population of around 13 million. The capital is Kigali. It is located at the heart of Africa, bordered by four countries: Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda is known as the ‘land of a thousand hills’.

SRHR promotion

Rwanda has recorded remarkable gains in the promotion of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) over the last few years, but access to a full service package for all categories of the population is still a long way off. The 2019-2021 Demographic Health Survey reveals that teenage pregnancies have been rising in recent years – mostly in rural areas.The issues minoritised youth face in exercising their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are generally stigma, discrimination and exclusion, fed by negative perceptions and societal norms. Youth with disabilities, for example, are seen as asexual.

Teenage pregnancies

Prevention of teenage pregnancies is a focus area. Pregnancy undermines a girl’s ability to exercise her rights to education, health and autonomy. Adolescent pregnancy rates are increasing in developing countries, with higher occurrences of adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes. In 2018, overall prevalence in Africa was 18.8% (Kassa, et al., 2018). The most teenage pregnancies were seen in East Africa (21.5%), which includes Rwanda. Numbers of unwanted pregnancies have been increasing: from 17,849 in 2016 to 23,000 in 2021.

Safe spaces

The Make Way programme in Rwanda conducts evidence-based advocacy, using the lived experiences shared in safe spaces for youth with compounded vulnerabilities:

  • Youth with disabilities
  • Teenage mothers
  • Young people in isolated areas
  • Young sex workers
  • Young people living with HIV

Make Way Rwanda has developed an innovative model for safe spaces: ‘Urubohokero’ – ‘judgement-free space’ in the Kinyarwanda language. A local name is important for emphasising the home-grown concept, owned by both users and duty bearers. In ancient Rwandan culture, aunts used to educate young girls about sex: how to behave and become a woman with Rwandan values, as pregnancy before marriage brought shame to the family. Older girls are now giving sex education to young girls, especially about ways to prevent pregnancy and access SRH services and information.

Youth panels play a big role in safe spaces as the link between the coordination group, partners and young people. They provide leadership and technical support, monitor safe space effectiveness, and ensure reporting and follow-up on the issues raised in safe spaces.

Our partners

Make Way Rwanda works in seven districts: Nyagatare, Gatsibo and Kirehe (Eastern Province ); Gasabo (city of Kigali and Rubavu); Nyamasheke and Rusizi (Western Province). Teenage pregnancy is higher here than in the rest of the country. There are also more sex workers and minoritised groups in remote areas in these districts, and Nyamasheke has a high number of people with disabilities.

The National Union of Disabilities’ Organisations of Rwanda (NUDOR) leads the Make Way Country Coordination Group on behalf of Liliane Fonds. Make Way Rwanda has nine collaborating partners: Health Development Initiative (HDI), Empower Rwanda (ER), National Paralympic Committee (NPC), Rwanda National Union of the Deaf (RNUD), Impanuro Girls Initiative (IGI), Save Generations Organization (SGO), Learn Work and Develop (LWD), Hope Iwacu Initiative (HII) and AESD, a faith-based organisation. We work closely together, with our combined knowledge and expertise, to ensure all young people are aware of their rights and have access to SRH – so we truly leave no one behind.

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