Project #2016

Sports to Empower Women & Girls in Rwanda

by Association of Kigali Women in Sports

With the Purpose of empowering women through sports, AKWOS in partnership with Global Giving and Mercy Corps , distributed Nike sport equipments to different women sport teams right from the grassroots. These included 60 rural women and girls sport teams from 20 selected Districts, 20 volley teams for women with disability, 30 primary school teams and 30 secondary school teams. This project has significantly increased the number of women teams with all basic equipments. We now have at least 20 volley teams for disabled women, within 20 Districts of the Country, there is in each District at least 1 football, Basketball and Volley ball team with all basic sport equipments, further more, so far in each District of the country there is a primary and secondary sport team with all basic sport materials.

The donation from Global Giving contributes a lot in the logistics activities when supplying sports materials to girls that have been identified as good players with no access to sports materials ,with the funds they are able to attend the training in time , refreshment and facilitates in mobilization of other girls that still has the culture mentality that sports is for boys.Many thanks goes to the donors from global giving for they have made a change in Rwandan Women’s mentality.

We are happy that Local Government Institutions continue to appreciate, our contribution to Women Empowerment through sports to the extent that AKWOS was awarded two tickets to go for the 2010 FIFA world Cup as a motivation to keep mobilizing women to participate in sport for social change.

Our program of promoting sports as catalyst for gender equity for social change needs to be strengthened and expanded so that it can benefit a large number of women. And for this particular case, we plan to advocate for the provision of more sports infrastructures, we plan to target many young girls in primary schools, to have trained coaches in all sports fields and all sectors of the country, and to conduct annual competitions for young girls in all sports fields at the whole country level.

An other impressive achievements so far, are the training of 50 primary schools women teachers from 50 rural schools in Gender Equity in Sports for Social Change. We can be proud of the positive impact this program have, where it led to the formation of girls associations for Anti-Aids, Anti-Gender Based Violence, Unity and Reconciliation Clubs and we now have young girls who were elected to be leaders, which were not the case before.

For the next 3 quarters, under this program we are organizing refresher training for 54 primary schools young girls and Interclass competitions. We really want to see rural schools in movement, girls with self confidence, with self esteem and hope for the future.

AKWOS is aware and thankful of the invaluable support of its donors and partners, and basing on that, we are confident that once again, with continued commitment by all of us, the challenges will be mastered and success will be assured. But please feel free to tell us what you think about our Project, what is needed to attract a wider support.

Trainees on football coaching pose for a group photo
Trainees on football coaching pose for a group photo

AKWOS organized a sport tournament themed: “promoting young girls’ legal rights through sports”. The tournament brought together young girls footballers in football competitions and the disabled girls and women in seat ball competitions. Prior to this, a basic football coaching course for 35 female coaches in Rwanda took place as part of women empowerment through sport for social change project. Basing on achievements so far made, we are strongly of the view that sports is the most successful tool for women empowerment for social change, by enhancing health and well being, fostering self esteem and empowerment, facilitating social integration and inclusion, challenging gender norms and providing opportunities for leadership and achievement. We are humbly calling up on different donors, to support us, so as to make our project successful. We also need your opinions, suggestions and comments on how we can work together to attract wider support, and by so doing, we will be contributing to women empowerment. We take this opportunity to thank all our supporters and partners, while requesting their continued support and partnership.

The E.Director/AKWOS shakes hands with one of the teams
The E.Director/AKWOS shakes hands with one of the teams
When a child girl plays, the world wins
When a child girl plays, the world wins

Manmeet Mehta and I spent a day with Felicite and Grace, learning more about them and the work they are doing. We visited two of the 29 schools where AKWOS has established programs and saw the girls in action. Since Alexis and Brian wrote a postcard about the work not too long ago let me offer a few different thoughts:

1. While it would be easy to view this work as "soccer for girls" the true power is in the social change AKWOS is making happen. Through conversations before or after every practice or game, these girls can learn about and discuss issues that they otherwise wouldn't touch.

2. Rwanda is an amazing place, just 15 years post-genocide. The ongoing commitment to, and investment in, reconciliation is palpable. AKWOS' work with girls includes conversations about differences and inclusion.

3. As much as the project is about the girls - it is about investing in a great social entrepreneur - Felicite Rwemalika. Felicite is a true rock star. She is the only woman on the national soccer federation board. She has organized events to bring awareness of the power of sport to engage and strengthen Rwanda's youth. She has the respect of NGO and Government leaders in Rwanda and around the world.

GlobalGiving is happy to be working with Nike and all the GlobalGiving donors who have supported this powerful work.

When asked what she would tell her friends about this project, Donna said: "Great: They are making a difference."

soccer picture
soccer picture

Alexis Nadin is a student at American University and former intern at GlobalGiving. This summer, she is travelling through Africa and visiting a number of GlobalGiving projects.

Alexis visited this project on May 29, 2009. She writes:

Location: Kaninya School, Rwanda

As we stood amidst throngs of students (many of which were boys) that had gathered to watch their female classmates play football, we joined the noisy cheering. At the Kanyinye School, two of the top girls teams, ages 8-12 years old, faced off in a match that could not have possibly happened without AKWOS, the organization implementing this project. According to Felicite, the director of AKWOS, when boys played sports in school, girls would be sent home to help their mothers. Thanks to AKWOS, schools across Rwanda now offer girls the opportunity to actively participate in sports. At this particular school, 134 girls play on 7 teams, two of which we saw. Coach Niyikora, trained by AKWOS, explained that not only are girls taught practical football skills, but practice time is also used to teach ways of fighting genocide mentality, prevention of HIV/AIDS, and women’s rights. According to the head teacher, the girls playing soccer are performing better in school, and they are more confident in class. Student captains of the two teams excitedly told us that because of AKWOS, they were able to travel around Rwanda for the first time.

Later in the afternoon, as we sat in the AKWOS office with the staff, we learned of AKWOS’ many other programs which are supported by GlobalGiving. Aside from starting women’s soccer leagues around the country and working on training 100 women coaches, they also empower women to get tested for HIV (bringing testing facilities to the matches). One notable program brings together wives of genocidiares and female genocide survivors for reconciliation through sports.

AKWOS has had a tremendous impact on soccer in Rwanda, even winning support of the national government for their programs. Not only has AKWOS created women’s teams countrywide, and empowered school girls to play sports, but AKWOS has brought about the formation of the national women’s team, and even helped train the coach for the national men’s team (a woman). It is undeniable that AKWOS is the reason that women in Rwanda can take an active role in sports.

Alexis said she would tell her friends this project was: "Great: They are making a difference."

GlobalGiving is committed to incorporating many viewpoints on our 600+ projects. We feel that more information, especially from eyewitnesses helps donors like you continue to support organizations doing great work in the community.

Women and Girls celebrating victory
Women and Girls celebrating victory

These are players of Rwandan W omen's football team rejoicing after winning a friendly match with players from Congo after a workshop on conflict resolution through sports. This is one of our objectives in empowering women through sports .It is well known that Congo was passing in difficulties due to the war that was taking place in Congo where women were the most vulnerable.It was named kick for reconciliation. We are targeting this region to promote peace.


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Organization Information

Association of Kigali Women in Sports

Location: Kigali - Rwanda
Website: http:/​/​
Association of Kigali Women in Sports
Project Leader:
Felicite Rwema
Founder, AKWOF
Kigali, Rwanda

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