As a woman, perhaps, my sympathy for fellow women is natural. I grew up so timid and unable to speak openly about my adolescence and rapid changes in my body. Rarely would I tell my father that I needed special attention. I would wait for my mother whom I believed was more sympathetic to assist me with sanitary materials. My peers were equally disturbed. Allen who always missed school could not complete her high school. When I met Allen in my home village after my high school, she had given birth to two children and no husband. Apparently, Allen was staying alone in abject poverty with malnourished children. Her parents who were equally poor had disowned Allen, during her first pregnancy, in a manner she did not anticipate. She had no idea of how and where to get appropriate contraceptives to prevent unintended pregnancies.
I joined MISS RWANDA 2017, with an ambition to have an appropriate platform to speak for adolescent girls and young mothers that were facing stigma and discrimination more especially in rural communities. I had the opportunity, among the top 15 finalists, to visit some schools in the Eastern province of Rwanda and talked to students on sexuality education and the role of contraceptives in preventing unintended pregnancies and new HIV infections.
Afro Ark also intends to empower the young mothers and women with entrepreneurship skills to start small scale businesses including women in cross-border trade and improve their economic situation.
Afro Ark considers male engagement to be equally important in the realization of sexual reproductive Health rights and economic empowerment of women. We shall involve them in the Advocacy process as key partners in community development.
Afro Ark can only achieve its objectives through strong partnerships with the Government of Rwanda, Development partners, and other stakeholders including beneficiaries of the organization. We shall endeavor to contribute to the national socio-economic priorities and the Global call reflected in sustainable development goals (SDGs). And together we shall ensure a safe and healthy society.