Globally, women have lower literacy and numeracy rates than men, less access to financial services, lower rates of school completion and less access to current information or technology about banking or financial entrepreneurship. A growing “digital divide” reflects how women also have lower adoption rates for digital technology, including mobile banking. In Rwanda, the mobile phone penetration is relatively high, with 77.8 % of the total population owning mobile cellular telephones. But despite the fact that women’s main work is done inside their household contexts, the majority of women’s financial empowerment approaches (including VSLA) typically take place outside of the household. This does not recognize that many women operate and need to negotiate relationships within the household and can result in interventions that may not support women’s economic empowerment or improve their low status in households.

The intervention proposed is based on experience of adapting and adding to classic VSLA methodology to specifically address household power dynamics, domestic violence and division of unpaid workload issues that are often at the core of inequitable gender norms. This “Journeys of Transformation” approach has been tested in one country (Rwanda) and shows promise. The families of men who participated in these group sessions saw significantly higher income gains compared to those families who did not participate.

CARE Rwanda is experienced in engaging men for gender equality and women’s empowerment program. Research on CARE’s engaging men interventions has shown that if they are effectively engaged with an appropriate model, men can support their wives to fully enjoy their rights in a broader sense and challenge inequitable gender norms that prevent women from reaching their development potential.

Meet the Team


Doris Bartel | Senior Director, Gender and Empowerment Unit | CARE USA

Doris Bartel leads CARE USA’s Gender and Empowerment unit which works to achieve meaningful progress on women’s rights and gender equality in CARE’s programmatic strategies.  She works with teams around the world to apply innovation and best practice for more targeted gender transformative strategies in addressing root causes of poverty and injustice.  She has led qualitative and participatory action research to explore sensitive topics such as intimate partner violence, expression of sexuality, and child marriage as well as issues affecting children and their families at the end of life.  She leads CARE USA’s representation in gender related consortia, including co-chairing the Interagency Gender Working Group’s Gender-Based Violence Task Force led by USAID’s office of Population and Reproductive Health.

Janvier Kubwimana | Project Manager | CARE Rwanda

Janvier Kubwimana is the Project Manager of a NORAD-funded Gender Equality and Women Empowerment Project, Janvier joined CARE Rwanda in 2011with 6 years of experience working in Development and Health sector in Rwanda where he specifically worked for UNFPA coordinating its Gender, Sexual & Reproductive Health, Population, and HIV/AIDS interventions in different districts of Rwanda. He holds a Master of Arts in Development Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health.

Bena Musembi | Country Director | CARE Rwanda

Bena Musembi is a results-oriented development professional with 20 years of experience in international development. Currently as CARE Rwanda’s Country Director since September 2015, and previously as CARE Burundi’s CD, she has successfully lead organizational change management processes, and overseen diverse development and humanitarian interventions in roles as Chief of Party, Deputy Chief of Party, Head of Programming and Learning, Senior Program Officer and Market Researcher in multi-country contexts.

Lea Liliane Niyibizi | Project Manager | CARE Rwanda

Lea Liliane Niyibizi is the Project Manager for Indashyikirwa Project, a GBV prevention project funded by DFID, Lea joined CARE Rwanda in November 2014 with 12 years’ experience working in Gender, GBV prevention and GBV response in Rwandan Health Sector; She has worked especially with Ministry of Health to develop Health providers training manual for management of GBV cases and she has worked on integrating GBV OSC (One Stop Center) in District Hospitals. She holds a Master of Arts in Project Planning and Management.

Sidonie Uwimpuhwe | Program Coordinator | CARE Rwanda

Sidonie Uwimpuhwe is the Coordinator of Vulnerable Women Program in Rwanda since 2012, she has joined CARE Rwanda with 10 years of experience working in the public health sector as a senior civil servant. Sidonie is a seasoned senior professional with a wider range of experience in gender equality and women empowerment that includes women economic empowerment; prevention and response to violence against women and girls; women’s leadership and political participation; engaging men and boys for gender equality; grassroots activism and women collective action, advocacy, civil society strengthening, etc. She holds a Master degree in Public Health and a Master of Science in Gender and Development.

One comment

  1. Great initiative!!! I have been supporting organizations to develop gender transformative VSLA approaches as a consultant lately including intergration of men’s engagement and rewarding of women’s unpaid work ….. Please keep sharing the learning as full empowerment of women and girls cannot be realised through participation in VSLAs without addressing gender issues at household level as well as at societal and structural level where the underlying causes of poverty lie. This may generate great lessons to all players

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