Felicite Rwemarika

Ashoka Fellow
Kigali, Rwanda
Fellow Since 2012


This profile was prepared when Felicite Rwemarika was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Felicite is enabling Rwandan women to gain full social and economic citizenship by engaging them in the male-dominated sport of football. Through the Association of Kigali Women in Sports she is using their participation to challenge the cultural and historical status quo, demonstrating their ability to improve their lives and develop their communities. The spirit of teamwork across ethnic divides within her football teams creates the self-confidence, support, and social capital needed for women to address key social challenges of poverty, healthcare, and education for themselves and their families. Felicite has transformed Rwanda’s social structure by making women’s football a widely accepted sport, and influenced government policy reform to further entrench sports for women and girls in and outside of formal education institutions.

Felicite understands that in addition to sport being a confidence and tolerance builder, these teams can also serve as an important entry point for women’s education and economic empowerment. She is leveraging the architecture that she has spent over a decade building—the hundreds of female football teams and tournaments across the country—to create educational and economic opportunities for poor rural women. Every sporting tournament is transformed into an educational experience by bringing in institutions and individuals related to various topic areas. Additionally, Felicite is organizing the football teams into farming cooperatives to engage women in agribusiness; thereby creating systems through which women can raise their communities out of poverty. Thus, Felicite’s idea uses sports not only as a confidence builder, but as an entry point to equip rural women with the skills and support needed to improve their livelihoods and communities.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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