This is the first in a three part series focusing on economic empowerment, sexual and reproductive health, and general leadership learnings shared by our Girl Up Club members.
We integrate economic empowerment into all our programs at Girl Up Initiative Uganda, given the high rates of unemployment among a growing youth demographic. According to the 2012 UN Population Fund's State of Uganda Population Report, 78% of residents are age 30 or younger, which is the highest percentage of young people in the world.
A large challenge young Ugandans face is high unemployment rates, the highest on the continent at 64% in 2012. Even those fortunate enough to have graduated from university face difficulties in finding work: it is estimated that only 1 out of every 5 graduates in the city has a job offer. But, as anyone who has been to Kampala knows, entrepreneurship is taking over the city, business card here, business card there.
At Girl Up Initiative Uganda, we aim to encourage all the girls and women we work with to take the initiative to become entrepreneurs and not rely on any man for economic survival. Therefore, we have responsed to the girls interest in learning skills that can help support themselves and earn small money for school and basic needs.
As Teopista (pictured above) told us, thanks to Girl Up Club:
"I can make bags which I learnt from the club, I also learnt how to make mats and ropes. I can sell them in case I do not continue with school and I get some money to keep me alive. I have also been told that I have to read hard to get good grades and become a better person in life."
Teaching the girls craft-makings skills serves two purposes. First, it's a creative and fun activity that provides them with the opportunity to bond with other girls in the club, build confidence, and learn that making mistakes and starting over is ok.
Second, it adds a practical component to our training programby showing them how to make things they can sell to earn shillings and provide for themselves, rather than taking money from men who then expect sexual favors in return. It can put some food on their plates and give them pride that they're able to support themselves.
Are you involved with an organization that is teaching income generating skills to a group? We would love to hear your story in the comments below!