A story portraying the impact of Speak Out Project to women and girls
Iratabara is nine years old. She goes to a primary school in Nyanza district, which is one of the areas where ActionAid/Speak Out! Project operates. She participates in the trainings facilitated by Speak Out! project mentors at her school.
“I didn’t know I had rights. It was thrilling and exciting to learn about my rights and those of other children. I can now know and identify when my rights are being violated. If I get to see that another child’s rights are being violated, then I can report to leaders or the teachers at school,” Iratabara states.
Iratabara knows that any sexual advances done to her body, exploiting her with too much work, and calling her bad names are all kinds of harassment that she must stand up against not only for herself, but for her fellow girls as well.
She is one of the targeted over 5,000 girls that are being empowered by the Speak Out! Project to know their rights, and gain knowledge, skills and support them to report and respond to cases of violence.
Claire Mugese, who is also a teenager in high school said she was also empowered with knowledge on sexual reproductive and health rights through the Speak Out Project.
“I have learnt about the changes my body will experience as I grow and learned how to guard against lies that could lead to unplanned pregnancies and sexual harassment. I’ve also learned how to make the right choices regarding my body and health. Now am fully aware of my rights and no one can easily abuse them,” Mugese cited.
15-year-old Munezero says she has learned about menstruation periods and how to maintain hygiene during that period which she says most parents shy away to talk about, hence the reason she appreciates her mentors for not shying away to discuss such crucial information with her and other girls.
John Rugerindida, whose daughter is one of the girls who benefit from the trainings, said that it’s hard for most parents to speak to their children about sexual reproductive and health rights and many times just live it to the children to learn on their own.
“My daughter told me she has so far learned about her rights and how to prevent and deal with abuse such as rape and defilement. Teaching my child is my responsibility but glad that Speak Out! Is supporting us to do this since it’s hard for most of us, parents,” he noted.
Speak Out! Project, targets 5,600 girls, community members in 9 sectors and 14 women rights organizations to increase willingness, confidence and ability to report and respond to cases of violence in four districts across Rwanda. The project is funded with UK Aid from the UK Government.