Continuing to work hand in hand on the root to self-reliance
The Rwandan NGO “Hand in Hand for Development” (short: HIHD) works to improve the living conditions of marginalised population groups and to (re)integrate them into society. Already 2019, the Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation supported the organisation in promoting two youth and women’s cooperatives. Thanks to training in entrepreneurial skills and easier access to financial opportunities, the members of the cooperatives were able to increase their income and improve their quality of life and consequently their self-reliance. After a successful first year, the project is now being supported for another two years and the number of supported cooperatives is being expanded. Rwanda’s history is marked by the conflict between the country’s two largest population groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi. The conflict culminated in a tragic genocide of the Tutsi minority in 1994. Despite continuing tensions between the two groups, the country has made considerable progress on many levels in the recent years. Rwanda’s government has stabilised, successfully reduced corruption and ensured an economic upswing. In Africa, the country is considered a role model for economic modernisation. Nevertheless, Rwanda is still struggling with major socio-economic challenges. Almost 40% of the population still lives below the poverty line. In particular, the 70% who work in agriculture can hardly live from their work and are often affected by levels of poverty. Furthermore, feeding the population is one of the biggest problems in the very densely populated country. The woman in Rwanda – caught between management level and marginalised population group Until now the role of women in Rwanda has moved between two poles. The role of the woman in society is traditionally inferior to the man. After the war, however, the government had to react to the loss of many male guardians. Thus, many new laws were passed that gave more rights to women. Women are now allowed to inherit or become heads of families and other pro-women laws have been put into place. For example, at least 30% of decision-making boards must be made up of women. Thus, today about 61% of all members of parliament are women. This puts Rwanda far ahead of many countries in terms of women’s rights. Despite all this, the traditional idea of the role of women still dominates in the minds of many people. This pushes many economically and socially disadvantaged groups of women to the margins of society. The local NGO Hand in Hand for Development, works with disantvanteged women’s groups such as widows, young mothersor infected with HIV. They also support groups which are often excluded from society: unemployed youth, people with disabilities or orphans. The organisation has always been driven by one goal: the desire to ensure the well-being of society as a whole. In particular, this means strengthening the self-reliance and living conditions of those who are unable to do so on their own. For the past 8 years they implemented a diverse range of projects: strengthening entrepreneurial skills of women and young people, promoting income-generating projects, protecting human and children’s rights as well as securing health, water and sanitation services.