Paper Crown Institute (PCI) is a Canadian social enterprise that works to support the personal and professional development of women and girls around the world. PCI was founded with the primary goal of empowering girls and young women through various forms of non-traditional participatory education and in-depth mentoring, complemented by related initiatives and programs that holistically contribute to a just and supportive environment for women and girls.

We understand that securing true gender equality and allowing girls to take their rightful place in societies around the world requires a holistic approach that directly involves local communities and relies on current and relevant social research to inform our work. This is why we also offer educational training and guidance specifically in the field of engaging men and boys in gender dialogues, as well as conduct gender-related research to ensure that we make the most efficient use of our time and resources and create the greatest impact possible on our mission to empower girls and young women around the world.

Our Values

Our core values guide everything we do. These include:

  • Equality
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Passion
  • Respect
  • Inclusion
  • Humour
  • Diversity
  • Justice
  • Kindness
  • Community
  • Creativity
  • Fun
  • Freedom

Our Mission

To educate and empower girls and young women through non-traditional, participatory education and mentoring, taking a holistic approach to gender equality that involves engaging men and boys alongside gender-focused research initiatives.

Our Vision

To work hand in hand with local communities to build strong and prosperous nations where girls and young women are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary for them to become visionary and respected leaders, as well as drivers of positive social and economic progress, at every level of society.


Bloom where you’re planted.
— Mary Engelbreit

Our Story

Paper Crown was founded by gender 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, and the unparalleled leadership of the country’s exceptional female leaders. Following a pilot of her own gender and leadership workshops with students at the Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology, Katie began imagining a capacity development model that would unite skills building and personal mentoring in the most impactful way possible, creating a space where Rwanda’s top women leaders from all sectors could pass on their legacy to the next generation and serve as active role models and mentors to today’s young women and girls across the country.

For us, the Rwandan experience is only the beginning. At Paper Crown, we seek to expand our model of non-traditional education and mentoring so that every girl around the world will be supported, inspired, and given the practical tools and skills necessary to make her dreams a reality. We also offer workshops that engage men and boys in the fight against gender inequality, and conduct gender-specific research to ensure our work remains relevant and powerful.

Why Rwanda?

Rwanda has made tremendous progress in gender equality over the last 20 years, and girls and women across the country have been able to enjoy rights and freedoms that were unimaginable in the recent past. The nation boasts the only female majority in parliament in the world, and institutionalized gender equality is unparalleled in many other countries. However, at the home and community level, challenges and barriers remain that keep girls from achieving their full potential and becoming healthy, productive members of society. Even though school enrolment is high for girls in the traditional education system in Rwanda, completion rates remain unacceptably low and complementary programs to support girls’ personal and professional development are not yet in place or widespread enough to ensure that they have all of the important resources and training they need to contribute to positive social and economic development in the country.

Gender-based violence and discrimination remain persistent problems that severely hinder a girl’s ability to realize her full potential, become an active and productive member of the Rwandan economy, and ensure a healthy, prosperous future for herself, her family and her community. Paper Crown Institute is actively running projects that seek to comprehensively engage girls with these key topics of critical importance, topics that are currently not addressed by existing structures in the process of a young woman’s personal and professional development.