Paper Crown Institute is a non-profit social enterprise that works with youth to transform gender norms, foster leadership and create lasting social change.

We work directly with adolescent boys and girls to break the intergenerational cycle of gender discrimination and violence, and spark the process of meaningful social change. 

Our Mission

    To empower young people through participatory dialogue and community leadership, taking a holistic approach to social change that openly addresses the problem of gender inequality and fosters a permanent change in mindset among boys and girls.

    Our Vision

    A world in which the beliefs and attitudes that promote gender discrimination and violence are permanently transformed for the better, led by the efforts of youth within their local communities, where the voices and lives of girls and women are seen as equally valuable to boys and men.

    Change a heart, change a mind,
    change the world.

    Our Story

    Paper Crown was founded by gender and development specialist Katie Carlson, a Canadian by birth and resident of Rwanda since 2011. Throughout her time spent living and working in the country, Katie was continually inspired by the immense potential of Rwanda’s girls and young women, who still struggled with issues of discrimination and violence despite the strong leadership and political will shown at national levels of government to create a more gender equal society in Rwanda. After piloting a series of participatory workshops with adolescent girls that directly called out the gender issues permeating their daily lives and empowered girls to know their rights and believe in themselves, Katie realized there was tremendous potential to break the intergenerational cycle of gender inequality and create lasting social change by spending meaningful time with young people and changing hearts and minds for the better - through critical thinking and the development of strong personal self-confidence and leadership skills that would lead to community advocacy.

    After running numerous capacity building projects to this effect since 2014, Paper Crown began engaging boys in 2017, to further tackle the problem of gender inequality and the mindsets that perpetuate it.