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Programme Profile: AKWOS
Rwanda was torn apart by a destructive civil war and genocide in 1994. Founder of AKWOS, Felicite Rwemalika, saw football as a powerful instrument to re-engage girls and women and empower them. Since 2001 she has successfully introduced football in all provinces of Rwanda, and the model has recently been copied in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Playing football on a team with a mix of Hutu and Tutsi, these women, many of whom are survivors of gender-based violence, learn to depend on each other to win and to find reconciliation in the camaraderie
Examples: Football, basketball, netball, volleyball, hockey, cricket
Teams give girls a platform to collectively process their fears, concerns, questions and experiences. In environments where girls are highly vulnerable to GBV, this built-in support system is critical. In instances of GBV, a team can serve as instant emotional support for survivors of GBV who often come away from the experience with depression and feelings of isolation. Several programme partners report instances where survivors of GBV are reluctant to report their abuse to an adult, but are willing to share it with a teammate, who can provide support and help the girl get medical, legal or emotional support. Practically speaking, the team setting can provide safety in giving girls protection in public space based simply on the numbers of girls moving together. One of the advantages of being part of a team is that the girls can look out for each other. They can help each other to identify the behaviour of potential abusers/threats and navigate them collectively.