Catholic Entity Launches “women’s empowerment” Initiative for Rwandan Teen Mothers

Twenty-six-year-old Laetitia Mukamana is one of 20 teen mothers In Rwanda who benefited from Trocaire’s women’s empowerment pilot programme. Credit: Trócaire

The overseas development agency of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, Trócaire, has launched a skills program for women in Rwanda’s Gikongoro Diocese that targets teen mothers.

The program, “women empowerment”, is aimed at helping vulnerable women, especially teen mothers who cannot fend for themselves and the children to gain skills and to start income generating projects.

In a Monday, November 22 report, Trócaire officials highlight challenges teen mothers in Rwanda face in their struggle to survive and fend for their children and say that the empowerment plan seeks to recover not only their lost hope, but also their dignity and self-respect.

“Helping teen mothers acquire new skills to earn an income gives them self-respect, dignity and hope. A Trócaire ‘women’s empowerment’ gift can mobilize young women in the countries where we work to achieve their true potential,” Trócaire officials say.

The Trócaire project is under the implementation of the agency’s local partner Duterimbere ONG, with funds from the Bank of Ireland.


The women’s Economic Empowerment Program, a pilot initiative of the overseas development agency of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland was initiated in Nyamagabe District covered by the Catholic Diocese of Gikongoro.

The program that is being realized in Rwanda’s Southern Province has over 20 teenage mothers who are provided with startup tool kits to support their chosen venture including dressmaking, and hair dressing among other vocational skills.

The package for those enrolled in the program include tuition fee for the various vocational programs as well as meals and any other necessities for training.

Laetitia Mukamana, a 26-year-old mother of two, is a beneficiary of the program. In the November 22 report, Ms. Mukamana narrates how she struggled to provide for her two children before her life was transformed by the Trócaire project.

“I struggled to feed my two children because their father did not give me any financial support and our living conditions got worse,” Ms. Mukamana is quoted as saying. 

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She adds, “I attended the training program for six months and was given the opportunity to join a dressmaking company as an intern. Having realized my ability, the owner offered me space and a sewing machine in her workshop which I rent.”

 “I get orders from clients who like my designs and I use the money I earn to feed my children, pay school fees and medical insurance,” the mother of two says, and adds, “In the past my children were not going to school because I could not afford uniforms. Now … my living condition has changed completely.”

Ms. Mukamana’s story is not unique, the leadership of Trócaire says, and adds, “Child pregnancies, linked to poverty and limited access to sexual reproductive health information, are common in Rwanda.” 

As for 22-year-old Delphine from Kitazigurwa village, the Trócaire project has come in handy in enabling her further her career in hairdressing after dropping out of school due to pregnancy.

“It would have taken me years to earn enough money to buy the hairdressing equipment. Getting this equipment means that I will progress my career soon,” Delphine says, and adds, “We will also use the tool kits provided by the empowerment program to train and employ fellow girls in our community. I thank Duterimbere ONG and Trócaire for providing us with this support.”


Trocaire leadership says that most of the participants in the vocational training project entered the job market with skills that are in demand, making it easy for them to get jobs.

The Country Director of Trócaire in Rwanda says that the Ireland Catholic entity is working with partners such as Duterimbere ONG, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion and the Gender Monitoring Office, “to support teen mothers who face so many challenges.”

“There are so many young girls that have become pregnant, and faced serious consequences by having to drop out of school, and not being able to stay with their families. Often, they have to leave home and fend for themselves. Together with the local authorities we have developed this project to help contribute to solving this large problem,” Mrs. Marleen Masclee says in the November 22 report.

Trócaire leadership further reports that stigma, rejection, violence within marriage, fewer job prospects and continued cycles of poverty are realities for teen mothers in countries where the Catholic agency works. 

The overseas development agency of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland takes the mantle of empowering the group and even considers it as a top priority.

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