Rwanda | ActionAid UK


  • 22
    22% of women aged 15-49 have experienced sexual violence.
  • 39
    39% of the population live in poverty.
  • 12
    11% of children are underweight.1


  • 1.

Women's rights and poverty in Rwanda

Post-war Rwanda has one of the best legal frameworks for women’s rights in the world. The majority of Rwandan parliamentarians are women and there is a drive to tackle gender-based violence.

However, many people still condone early marriage and domestic violence. 22% of women aged 15-49 have experienced sexual violence.1 

Agriculture is a key industry in Rwanda, but limited access to land, rough, hilly terrain and soil erosion make life even harder for rural households facing hunger and malnutrition. 

  • 1.

Womens economic empowerment

ActionAid supports women like Hilalie, 45, to develop skills including weaving, which help them break the cycle of poverty

Photo: Michel Ndayambje/Actionaid

What we do in Rwanda

Building strength and unity through women

ActionAid helps women earn their own money by providing financial support and training to start their own cooperatives. We support women to start businesses like chicken farming, maize harvesting or vegetable growing so they can provide for their children.

Many women lost the entitlement to their homes and land when their husbands died during the genocide. ActionAid provides advice on how they can claim their rights.

Protecting children’s futures

ActionAid supports early childhood development centres across the country - safe places for children aged three to six to play and learn, which allow mothers to continue working.

We have also built at least 5,320 classrooms across five districts in Rwanda, enrolling at least 239,000 students - 50% of them girls.

In schools, we help girls get access to sanitary towels, build separate toilets blocks and Girls' Rooms, so that they aren't forced to miss school when they have their period. 

Living with HIV, positively

Women’s cooperatives provide a safe haven for women and girls living with HIV.

Members have often been stigmatised and shunned by their own communities and the cooperatives give them an income and status. Here women also learn about their rights and how the law can protect their children from early marriage and polygamy.

Disasters in Rwanda

Coronavirus crisis

Women, who constitute the majority in the informal sector and low-wage earners, will be hardest hit by the crisis in Rwanda.

Restrictions on the movement of people are severely impacting farmers and small business owners, meaning many families are finding it difficult to meet even basic needs

Meanwhile, the burden of unpaid work tends to fall on women and girls, including caring for elderly family members and children. 

ActionAid are distributing food packages including rice and flour to vulnerable families in Rwanda, as well as hygiene products to help stop the spread of the virus. 

We're also working to protect women and girls' rights and prevent gender-based violence through awareness-raising projects, including community radio programmes, TV shows and online messages.

See more about our Coronavirus Appeal, and how you can help

Rwandan genocide

In Rwanda, in the space of 100 days during 1994, between 800,000 and one million people - were killed by extremist members of the Hutu community (the majority ethnic group).

They were targeting members of the minority Tutsi community, as well as their political opponents, irrespective of their ethnic origin.

Up to one in five people in Rwanda were killed in the massacre, mainly by organised militias. 

This was one of Africa’s defining moments, and its ramifications are still felt today, as so many people were killed or lost family members.