Pathway 5 - Exercising rights

Pathway 5 - Exercising rights

This pathway contributes to change by:

Enabling women to exercise their rights, including their awareness and their access to information, actors and services that allow them to do so.

 See below for the specific sections of this pathway. For further information on each section please refer to the attached document.


This pathway aims to have an impact on all vulnerable women. All vulnerable women are at considerable risk of their rights being violated and thus need support in order to be aware of and able to exercise their rights.

CARE Rwanda is committed to work in partnership. In this pathway, our strategic partners are:

  • The Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, who is responsible for the formulation, implementation and monitoring several policies and strategies promoting women's rights.
  • The Ministry of Justice and especially its 'Access to Justice Bureaus' (MAJ), who make legal advice available at the district level. 
  • The National Women's Council (CNF), who advocates for and build capacity on women's interests and rights. 
  • The Gender Monitoring Office (GMO), falling directly under the prime minister and being an important partner in knowing changes in the situation around women's rights. 
  • The National Commission of Human Rights, being a constitutional, independent and permanent national organ in charge of the promotion, protection and monitoring of the respect for human rights.
  • Pro-femme, an umbrella of 52 local civil society organizations that focus on women's rights and gender issues.

Apart from the strategic partners, many implementing partners contribute to this pathway. Please refer to our website for the descriptions of the projects under this pathway and get to know our implementing partners.

CARE Rwanda's work on this pathway will be informed by the Government of Rwanda's policy context. Of specific importance to this pathway are:

  • The Law on Matrimonial Regimes, Liberalities and Successions (1999) specifies that women have the same rights to inheritance as men. Although practices are slowly changing, a lack of awareness and cultural practices prevent the law from being fully implemented.
  • The National Gender policy (MIGEPROF, 2011) highlights principal guidelines on which sectoral policies and programs will base to integrate gender issues
  • The National Policy Against Gender-Based Violence (MIGEPROF, 2011) shows how the GoR is engaged in prevention, response and evidence building of GBV.

Besides the above mentioned policies, a number of laws, policies and strategies are relevant to the OVC program as a whole. These are described in section A3 of the full program document.

CARE Rwanda recognizes that in order to achieve a situation in which women´s rights are overall known and respected, it needs to work at multiple levels.

This pathway focuses on the work with women themselves, in order to raise awareness, confidence and access to actors and services that help a woman claim or protect her rights. It works however in close cooperation with pathway 6 which has the objective to engage men and boys in the promotion of women´s rights, pathway 7 which aims to increase vulnerable women's civic participation, pathway 8 which specifically looks at the protection of women from GBV as well as pathways 9 and 10 which look at advocacy and grassroots activism in favor of women´s rights respectively.

While this pathway looks specifically at empowering women, by increasing their knowledge, capacities and self-esteem, pathways 7 and 8 include capacity building of duty bearers on specific women's rights.

Under this pathway, CARE Rwanda will use a combination of well-tested models and innovative approaches, including the following:

Awareness raising on women's rights

A woman's awareness of her rights is the first step for her to be able to claim her rights. CARE Rwanda and its partners will use different channels to raise awareness on women rights, including:

  • Capacity building of VSL group members. Typically, this is done by the training of peer educators who then train the other women in their VSL group and possibly also in the wider community;
  • Training of theatre groups that play sketches containing relevant messages;
  • Mass campaigns, for example around International Women's Day, including media messages, banners, marches, etc.;
  • Capacity building of LNGOs and media on women's rights, in order for them to disseminate this information whenever relevant;
  • Messages during sport events or other occasions where many people come together;
  • Inclusion of women's rights topics in literacy trainings;
  • Partner with organizations that specialize in popularization of laws and policies, e.g. through the dissemination of booklets with explanation of new laws or community trainings on laws and policies. 

This area of intervention is one to be scaled up through local partners.

Access to (para)legal support

In order for women to be able to access information regarding their rights and advice on how to prevent or follow-up on rights violations, CARE Rwanda and its partners will facilitate access to legal and paralegal support. This includes:

  • The set-up of Anti-Corruption and Justice Information Centers (AJIC).
    These centers, at district level, are staffed by a legal advisor who will receive people in need of advice or information. The legal advisor will link the person to the appropriate institution and advise on what action should be taken. The advisor follows up on any cases reported to him/her to monitor progress and to make sure that cases are not being neglected. In addition, the center hosts an internet café where people can access information on the web.
    This approach is currently at the stage of innovation.
  • Cooperate with Access to Justice Bureaus, an initiative of the Ministry of Justice.
    They have staff in every district, providing people with information on legal matters.
    The role of CARE Rwanda and its partners will be to link our impact group as well as GBV case managers and activists (see pathway 8 on GBV) to these bureaus, so that they can access their services. In addition, the bureaus will be invited to provide trainings to e.g. VSL groups.
  • Partner with paralegal organizations to enable vulnerable women's access to the paralegal community volunteers whom they train. Again, these volunteers are able to provide legal support and refer people who feel their rights are violated to the appropriate institutions.

Community Scorecard 

The CSC allows vulnerable women to engage with their local authorities and duty bearers. If women feel that their right to access certain services is not being respected, the CSC provides a platform to discuss with those responsible for this service.

Please refer to pathway 7 on civic participation and leadership or to sector C3 for more information on the CSC.

The following indicators will be used to measure impact at the level of this pathway:

  • % men and women reporting meaningful participation of women in decision-making at the household level (woman’s own health care; making major household purchases; visits to her family or relatives)
  • % of women who have control over their own income (either independently or in joint decision making with husband)

These indicators are shared between pathways 5 and 6, as the two pathways are expected to contribute to the described change together.

  • Between 2006 and 2012, CARE Rwanda and its partners have built the capacity of vulnerable women on their rights and relevant laws and policies, such as the gender policy and the land law. This includes 241,523 members of 8,160 VSL groups, 78% of whom are women. Typically, it is observed that this does not only result in an increase in their awareness, but also in their self-esteem and confidence to claim their rights. Women testify that their rights are being more respected, both at the household as well as at the community level.
  • Each year, CARE Rwanda and its partners contribute to the celebration of International Women’s Day. This has for example been done by publicly recognizing the efforts of certain women who have significantly contributed to improve the socio-economic situation of women, to celebrate their achievements and inspire others to do the same.
  • The PPIMA project has put in place 4 Anti-Corruption and Justice Information Centers (AJICs) at district level, which daily advice community members with concerns about corruption and injustice. The project has also trained 63 local authorities in Nyaruguru district on human rights and how to integrate this into their planning.
  • In Gisagara and Nyaruguru Districts, women have provided feedback to and influenced decision making of duty bearers through their participation in the Community Scorecard. This has for example resulted in the decision to build a health clinic in Nyaruguru, as was recommended during the CSC process.
  • 92 CSC animators (elected community volunteers) in 6 sectors have been trained in the facilitation of the Community Scorecard. With support from CARE and its partner organizations, they are responsible for the organization and facilitation of ongoing cycles of the CSC. In time, they will be able to do so independently. Community animators stated that they are proud to do this work, to have received the confidence of their communities and very interested in remaining to be involved in the work that they are currently doing.
  • Policy Advocacy and Learning Initiative (PALI)
  • Policy Engagement for Marginalized Inclusion (PEMI) Project
  • Great Lakes Advocacy Initiative (GLAI)
  • Results Initiative (RI)
  • Umugore Arumvwa (Kinyarwanda for 'A woman should be listened to')
  • Higa Ubeho (Kinyarwanda for 'Be determent and live')
  • Public Policy Information Monitoring (PPIMA) Project
  • ISARO (Kinyarwanda for 'pearl')

CARE Rwanda is committed to learning to continuously improve the relevance and quality of its work. In relation to the promotion of OVC rights and protection, it poses itself the following question:

  1. How can we ensure that increased awareness and access to information, actors and services will actually lead to women enjoying their rights, and how can we collect evidence whether this is the case?