Despite a current female majority in Parliament, motherhood in this small, densely populated African country is a risky enterprise. The 1994 Hutu militia genocide, an ensuing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic, internal and neighboring ethnic conflicts, and widespread poverty remain obstacles to sustaining maternal health. Political leveling efforts notwithstanding, motherhood in contemporary Rwanda imposes unique challenges.

Rwanda began as a tribal kingdom presided over by Tutsi kings. During the colonial era, Rwanda became a German colony, then a Belgian territory following Germany's World War I defeat. Rwanda gained independence from Belgian rule in 1962, with Hutu-Tutsi clashes shaping its modern-day landscape. Today, over 60 percent of the roughly 10 million Rwandans live in poverty, with maternal well-being profoundly influenced by this ...

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