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Exploring adolescent girls’ and boys’ capabilities and the role of adolescent empowerment programming in Rwanda

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Nicola Jones

Hero image description: An adolescent girl in Kigali in Rwanda Image credit:Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE 2020

Rwanda is a small, landlocked country that borders Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The most densely populated country in Africa, about one-quarter of its citizens are adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19, and 40% live below the poverty line. Over the last two decades the country has seen high economic growth and a significant decline in poverty and extreme poverty. Rwanda is also an international leader in women’s access to voice and agency, boasting the world’s highest rate of women’s parliamentary representation at the national level. However, research evidence suggests that adolescent girls’ access to decision-making at household and community levels is still significantly limited by conservative social norms.

To contribute to the limited evidence base on young people’s gendered well-being in Rwanda, this policy brief summarises formative mixed methods research about adolescent girls and boys in both rural and urban communities across all five provinces in late 2019. The participants in the quantitative sample were 10 years old, while the qualitative sample included 10–12-year-old participants and older 12+ Programme graduates who are now 15–17 years old.

An adolescent girl in Kigali in Rwanda
Sarah Baird, Serafina Buzby, Rebecca Dutton, Roberte Isimbi, Nicola Jones, Laura Le Saux, Ernest Ngabo and Paola Pereznieto