Adolescent girls’ capabilities in Rwanda: a synopsis of the evidence

Briefing papers
December 2017
Elizabeth Presler-Marshall and Maria Stavropoulou

This digest brings together evidence from two Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) rapid country reviews and summarises what is known about Rwandan adolescent girls’ capability development and the interventions meant to support them as they move toward adulthood. Touching on all six capability domains of GAGE’s conceptual framework – education and learning; bodily autonomy, integrity and freedom from violence; sexual and reproductive health, health and nutrition; psychosocial wellbeing; voice and agency; and economic empowerment – it concludes that, despite a wealth of evidence, important gaps in our understanding remain. Specifically, we know too little about younger versus older adolescent girls, and how to effect longer-term change.

That said, while gendered social norms and poverty continue to shape the lives of Rwandan adolescent girls – with nearly 45% of older girls living below the poverty line – the opportunities open to today’s girls are markedly improved compared to those available a generation ago. For example, girls are now more likely than boys to attend school, even at the secondary level. In addition, due to the fact that Rwanda has the world’s highest rate of women’s parliamentary representation at the national level (64% in 2016), girls have role models for futures larger than marriage and motherhood.