A Changemaker

"When people in our community come to watch the girls play, we take the opportunity to talk about issues like HIV/AIDS, or reconciliation. They open their eyes and ears to new messages because they are laughing and enjoying. Because they are relaxed. They forget about hunger and their problems."

- Felicite Rwemalika, Founder and President of AKWOS

Rwanda was torn apart by a destructive civil war and genocide in 1994. Felicite Rwemalika saw football as a powerful instrument to re-engage and empower girls and women. Since 2001 she has successfully introduced football in all provinces of Rwanda, and the model has recently been applied in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well.

Playing football on a team with a mix of Hutu and Tutsi, women learn to depend on each other to win and to find reconciliation in the camaraderie. AKWOS also focuses on reproductive health, economic empowerment, promotion of women's rights and addressing the trauma of gender-based violence.

Impressed by the scale of her work in bringing football to rural women to build independence, confidence, and teamwork while integrating agribusiness and cooperative undertakings in Rwanda, Ashoka has chosen Felicite as a Fellow.  Felicite will join the community of Ashoka Fellows as a leading social entrepreneur, using innovative solutions, compassion and creativity to address social issues affecting girls and women.