Deaf People in Rwanda working towards full Inclusion

For deaf people in Rwanda, despite many years of discrimination and exclusion, there are many positive stories coming out in recent years. These are stories of exciting projects and initiatives, and of people standing up for their rights.

There are a number of strong advocates and champions among Rwanda’s deaf community and we would like to feature some of their stories and achievements in this post.

Brown Niyonsaba, now a staff member at VSO Rwanda, worked for several years as a volunteer supporting the rights of other deaf young people. She is featured in the video below, which describes the Imbere Heza (“Brighter Future”) project that is advocating for young deaf people to access sexual and reproductive health services:

Short video about the Imbere Heza (“Brighter Future”) project in Nyagatare, Rwanda

You can read more about the Imbere Heza project here and also read more of Brown’s own story as featured in Rwanda’s New Times in 2018 here.

Media for Deaf Rwanda has its own You Tube Channel, which you can access here and an example of one of their videos, featuring Colombe Akiwacu, former Miss Rwanda, can be seen below:

Colombe Akiwacu, former Miss Rwanda, signing her name as part of the Media for Deaf Rwanda campaign

In the creative world, Diane Hirwa is an artist who is also deaf that was also featured in the New Times in 2016 and her story can be read here. Please read also the story of the soon-to-be-opened Mime restaurant, which will be staffed entirely by deaf people here.

The Rwanda National Union for the Deaf (RNUD) is working tirelessly to support deaf people throughout the country and its work was featured in a short video below describing a project supported by UNDP in Huye in the Southern part of the country.

RNUD activities in Huye, Rwanda

Working closely with RNUD is also the Rwanda National Association of Deaf Women (RNADW) and both are members of the National Union of Disability Organisations of Rwanda (NUDOR), who act as an umbrella for the Disability Rights movement in Rwanda with the powerful slogan “Together We Stand.”

These organisations, alongside many individuals, have been advocating for Rwanda Sign Language (RSL) to be given the status of a national language and they hope this will be passed into law in the near future, so that all children may learn RSL at school. Read about the campaign here as well as the parallel project of developing a comprehensive Rwanda Sign Language dictionary, which can be read about here.

We salute the efforts of so many organisations and individuals who are working tirelessly to ensure the rights of all deaf people are realised and that give hope to many deaf people that they are firmly on the road to full inclusion in the Rwandan society.

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Developing Global Diversity and Inclusion Standards

The Centre for Global Inclusion | Home of the GDIB

Developed by the Centre for Global Inclusion, the Global Diversity & Inclusion Benchmarks: Standards for Organizations Around the World (or for short, the GDIB) are a significant development for the world of Diversity and Inclusion. The GDIB were developed by 3 co-authors and 95 expert panelists and can be downloaded here and may be freely used subject to signing a permission agreement here.

One of the GDIB co-authors, Nene Molefi, has also published a book entitled “A Journey of Diversity & Inclusion In South Africa: Guidelines for leading inclusively”. Please read more about the book here as well as an article from the Mail & Guardian about some of her work with the Appeal Court in South Africa here.

Please also have a look at a recent article from Harvard Business Review called 5 Strategies for Creating an Inclusive Workplace as well as a more detailed one called 10 Effective Strategies to build a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace written by Tom Wells. Both of these are packed with practical and workable ideas for building inclusion on a daily basis.

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New Year Resolution for 2020

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A Demand for Action from UN Women’s Step it Up for Gender Equality Campaign

As we reach the end of 2019 and look forward to a new year and a new decade, it’s the time of New Year Resolutions again… At Embrace Everyone, our demand for Equality of all kinds is constant and we are hoping that people, organisations and nations all focus more on Equality and Justice issues in 2020.

In this piece, we are focusing on the issue of Gender Equality in particular, hoping that some of the positive stories below can also inspire you to take action in 2020 to promote Equality.

Journalist Miriam Berger described the year 2019 as a “roller-coaster ride” for women’s rights and gender equality around the world. Please read her excellent review of the year here.

World Leaders agreed in 2015 to close the Gender Gap, as reported by UN Women here and specific commitments by many countries to ending Discrimination against Women by 2030 can be read about here

Finland is itself a pioneer in Gender Equality and recently awarded the International Gender Equality Prize for 2019 to Equality Now, an international NGO which advocates for the protection and promotion of human rights for women and girls.

At community level, there are numerous great examples of organisations taking great strides to promote Women’s Leadership, such as Akili Dada in Kenya and SIHA (Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa).

Finally, we would like to thank all our readers for your commitment to Embrace Everyone throughout 2019 wish you all a very Happy New Year in an equality-filled 2020….

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De-Colonising our Minds….

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De-Colonising our Minds Society (SOAS)

Welcome to our latest post, which is dedicated to the critical need for de-colonisation through the educational and entertaining process of reading.

We start with an in-depth reading list that was put together by several participants from the recent Global Community Dialogue in Rwanda. The list is described as “an endeavour to capture and experience different voices, other than those we frequently hear, the dominant White, Western narrative, in order for us to support our own learning and accountability to de-colonising and anti-racism.” The list can be downloaded below:

Around the African continent, there are several great initiatives looking to promote and publish African writers. Among them are Kwani Trust and Story Moja, both based in Kenya, as well as Cassava Republic and Quramo Publishing, both in Nigeria, and African Bureau Stories in Ghana.

In Rwanda, there is an excellent project called Imagine We who are supporting the development of children’s stories written by Rwandans. Please take a look at their list of online books that are available here.

The Golden Baobab is another organisation founded by Deborah Ahenkorah aiming to increase African representation in children’s books. Amongst their activities are the annual Golden Baobab prizes, workshops and publishing. Read about how to get involved with their work here.

A recent book by Sandra Agard for young readers about the anti-slavery campaigner, Harriet Tubman, was published as part of the Trailblazers series and can be accessed here.

Another great children’s book is Mangoes and Monkey Bread, written by Emily Joof, and available in English and Swedish.

Continuing with the theme, we would like to also direct you to a succinct piece written by Alice Nderitu called “Buying a Book? Make that a book by an African for Africans?” as well as re-visiting Gary Younge’s excellent piece called “My Year of Reading African Women”.

We close with another comment from the “De-Colonising our Minds Reading List”, the following statement also applies to this whole post,

“We wish it to be of benefit and value in many ways and in particular in challenging the dominant narratives and ideologies that given rise to the need for creating this list in the first place. Have fun, be inspired and de-colonise… always!”

16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence

Hello again! Looking at media reports it seems like the number of cases of GBV are escalating, or maybe it is cases that are reported, which are at last going up. You can review this page for the latest GBV statistics from most parts of the world that show no one is immune. As we mark the 16 days of activism against GBV, we will share some resources that could inform your approach. You can read more on the history of these campaigns which originated in memory of three sisters who were murdered for their activism in the Dominican republic in 1960. We think this campaign should be a a daily campaign, as the data shared above shows startling numbers!

  • In this video, Dr Emma Fulu advises on what factors perpetuate GBV, what works in GBV prevention work and how GBV impacts on SDGs.
  • Among the most potentially influencial stakeholders in ending GBV are religious communities and leaders. SONKE Gender Justice, a South African organisation shares case studies from Indonesia, Uganda and Lebanon that holds some lessons for us on how we can influence this space. You can access these case studies here.

This crisis of violence against women and children is a great shame on our nation. It goes against our African values and everything we stand for as a people. We grew up being taught that as men and boys we must respect women and protect children. We were taught to never, ever raise your hand against a woman. But we have lost our way. Our communities are in the grip of violence against those we are supposed to protect. We are here today to unite under the theme: ‘Enough is Enough.’ Because we have truly had enough.”

South African President Cyril Rampahosa (2019)

Emma Fulu – GBV impacts on SDGs

Celebrating Women’s Contributions

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Because we live in a patriarchal world, where women’s achievements and contributions are often not acknowledged and properly celebrated, and because we should celebrate both female and male trailblazers everyday (not just once or twice a year!), we are sharing some inspiring stories of women leading radical change from all over the world….

Firstly, the BBC 100 Women 2019 has recently come out and can be accessed here.  You can also have a look through last year’s list here. We acknowledge that this does not cover all the amazing work women are doing globally and whom we celebrate as well!

In Sudan, the very active role of women in this year’s protests, uprising and pro-democracy movement has been very inspiring and SIHA (Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa) recently organised a 3 day Conference on the theme of “Sudan Women Convening: Re-Building Sudan.”  Please read about the Conference here and check SIHA’s excellent publication “Women in Islam“.  A selection of articles from the journal are also available online here.

Please also read Nesrine Malik’s excellent article about the complexity of women’s imagery in the revolution called “She’s an icon of Sudan’s revolution; but the woman in white obscures vital truths.”

Since 30th April 1977, courageous women in Argentina have been protesting the disappearance and murder of thousand’s of their children in the military dictatorship of the time.  More than 40 years later, their struggle for justice continues; please read more about it here.

We would also like to honour the many Liberian women who forced the peace process to finally succeed in 2003.  Some of their story is captured in the article, “Women; Liberia’s Guardian’s of Peace.”

Current protests in Lebanon are also being led by women and you can read more on this in “the Revolution is a Woman.”

Finally, here is a fascinating piece about women in the ongoing protests in Hong Kong called “How Hong Kong’s female protesters are reclaiming the “basic bitch” stereotype.”

These are just a few stories of inspiring women that we have gathered.  We leave you with some inspiration from 19th Century Icon Sojourner Truth.

Sojourner Truth quote: Life is a hard battle anyway. If we laugh and sing a little...

Marking World Mental Health Day 2019

Hello all.  We hope you have been well?

World Mental Health Day Poster

On 10th October, the world is marking this important day. The theme for 2019 is ‘Focus on Suicide Prevention’ .The aim of the day is to raise awareness on the magnitude of suicide globally, and the roles individuals and the society at large can play to prevent/reduce this. The statistics are alarming, with someone losing their life to suicide every 40 seconds. And more glaring is the fact that suicide is the second leading cause of death among the youth. A high incidence of suicide has been recorded globally, including in Africa and especially among men. 

Approach to suicide prevention by SPRC


Finally, please also read Arsenal defender Emma Mitchell’s touching story on her own personal battle with depression here.

We welcome you to share any resources and contacts of organisations that provide free or affordable mental healthcase services from around the word that we can share here for people to access, if need be (apart from those shared above). Let us support each other!