Congressional Delegation Visits Rwanda with CARE to See How U.S. Investments Are Empowering Women and Girls

Congressional Delegation Visits Rwanda with CARE to See How U.S. Investments Are Empowering Women and Girls

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WASHINGTON (May 4, 2018) -- A bipartisan group of senior, all female House staffers traveled to Rwanda with CARE to see how U.S. investments and partnerships are saving lives and promoting women’s and girls’ empowerment. The delegation included staffers from California, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia, as well as representatives from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the Women’s Congressional Policy Institute (WCPI), the Democracy Fund and the media.

Rwanda – a small, landlocked country in east-central Africa – is considered a beacon of gender equality, where the highest percentage of women elected to parliament is represented in the world at 64 percent. However, this degree of success has yet to trickle down to the household and community levels, especially for women and girls. Today, they still face many challenges, including a lack decision-making power and control over their financial resources, a high risk of gender-based violence and restricted opportunities in accessing education, skills and health services. While Rwanda has made great strides toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in recent years, the consistent gender inequities continue to hinder the country’s ability to reach middle-income status.

“In too many spaces, women and girls continue to experience marginalization and discrimination,” said Rachael Leman, senior director of citizen advocacy for CARE USA. “This Learning Tour to Rwanda was an important opportunity to showcase the critical role that U.S. investments and global partnerships play in empowering women and girls to lift themselves out of poverty and be catalysts of change for their families and communities.”

The highlight of the trip included field visits in Kigali and the Southern and Eastern provinces of Rwanda, where the delegation sat down with women and girls in their communities to see how U.S. investments are transforming their lives and leading to improved health outcomes, the prevention of gender-based violence, better nutrition and expanded economic and educational opportunities. During the trip, the delegation also met with Peter Vrooman, U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda; Dr. Diane Gashumba, Minister of Health; and Esperance Nyirasatari, Minister of Gender and Family Promotion.

Through these program visits and meetings with change-makers and key development stakeholders, including representatives from the Rwanda Government, non-government organizations (NGOs), technical experts and the U.S. Mission, the delegation gained a greater understanding of the positive impact U.S. investments have on making sustainable change for women, their families and their communities for generations to come.

Participants in CARE’s April 2018 Learning Tour to Rwanda included:

  • Alexis Arieff – Specialist in African Affairs, Congressional Research Service
  • Keenan Austin Reed – Chief of Staff, Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA-04)
  • Anne Bouleanu – Freelance journalist
  • Caroline Cash – Chief of Staff, Rep. James Comer (R-IL-13)
  • Jen Daulby – Chief of Staff, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL-13)
  • Cindy Hall – President, Women’s Congressional Policy Institute
  • Betsy Hawkings – Director, Governance Program, Democracy Fund
  • Rachael Leman – Senior Directory of Citizen Advocacy, CARE USA
  • Gayatri Patel – Senior Policy Advocate for Gender, CARE USA
  • Angela Ramirez – Chief of Staff, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM-03)
  • Julie Tagen – Chief of Staff, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD-08)
  • Kelle Strickland – Chief of Staff, House Sergeant at Arms
  • Ashlee Vinyard – Chief of Staff, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX-21)
  • Jeanette Windon – Oversight & Investigation Director, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA-39)

Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. Last year, CARE worked in 94 countries and reached more than 80 million people around the world. To learn more, please visit

Nicole Ellis, +1-202-560-1791,

Photo credit: Ilan Godfrey/CARE