(Photo: Girl Up Uganda girls with their reusable sanitary pads after a AGP training on July 23rd)
Girl Up Initiative Uganda (GUIU) was recently awarded a grant from the Segal Family Foundation (SFF) to extend the after-school Adolescent Girls Program (AGP) into two more schools around Kampala, launch its Big Sister Mentorship Program for 60 AGP alumni, and continue to grow the Young Women’s Economic Empowerment Program (YWEEP) projects and initiatives. The overarching goal of the expansion is to improve and create sustainable solutions for girls’ education, women’s economic empowerment, leadership and mentorship. We are looking to serve more girls and young women within the various districts of Kampala, and continue to help build healthy communities where adolescents girls and young women have more opportunities to flourish.
The Segal Family Foundation is a philanthropic organization that supports community-based entities at the grassroots, or “grassroots innovators”, that are working to solve problems on the ground and empower local communities and gifted individuals to come up with and implement sustainable solutions. As a new partner of Girl Up Initiative Uganda and an enabler of the expansion into two additional schools, SFF was particularly impressed by our model of integrating adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) with vocational skills and economic strengthening through YWEEP, as well as looked forward to working with our young-women led management team. They also cited the AGP, Mazuri Designs, and the Ni-Yetu Youth Program as being particularly interesting, as programs that are heavily community-centered, which thereby increases the likelihood of local ownership and sustainability of program benefits.
Currently, Girl Up Initiative Uganda’s program for in-school adolescent girls is active in three primary schools - St. James Bbiina, Murchison Bay, and Luzira C.O.U. Thanks to the hard work of the GUIU team on the ground, two new schools are already on board - St. Kizito Primary School and Kiswa Primary School. On July 21st, the Girl Up team approached the two schools for possible partnership. The team was thrilled by the enthusiasm the head teachers demonstrated towards the program. At St. Kizito Primary School, the head teacher even invited GUIU to talk to the whole school about the work of the organization.
We are also in the process of identifying 60 Big Sisters to launch the Big Sisters Mentorship Program from St. James Bbiina Primary School and Murchison Bay Primary School. Taking into account all five schools, by 2017 GUIU plans to reach and impact over 4,400 girls (400 directly, 4000 indirectly through peer-to-peer knowledge exchange), equipping them with the necessary skills and messages on gender equality, SRHR, and human rights, as well as the know-how on making informed decisions, healthy choices, and engaging in positive behavior that will help them on their path to reaching their full potential.
“In the [Girl Up Uganda] club, I have learnt how to make a locally made sanitary towel using cloth. I will be able to teach my sister at home so that we can make our own pads” - Precious
Another important aspect of this expansion for GUIU is to ensure we are achieving the intended goals of the various interventions. A part of our partnership with the Segal Family Foundation includes the prioritization of measurement and evaluation (M&E) both for us and SFF as we analyze milestones over the course of the year. Our M&E process currently involves both qualitative and quantitative methods in the form of pre- and post-evaluation surveys, interviews with participants and key stakeholders, and logistical data collection including attendance, and the frequency of sessions and activities. More specifically, with the adolescent girls we report on acquired knowledge and behavior change around SRHR, gender equality, and human rights together with dropout rates, attendance as it relates to menstrual periods, and academic performance. For instance, in 2015 our results showed a decrease from 75 percent to 14 percent of girls that agreed that it ok for a man to hit his wife if she misbehaved, illustrating a stronger knowledge of violence, particularly GBV, and human rights.
For the young women and mothers, we consider skills and knowledge developed around vocational training with the Sewing our Futures project, increased understanding and ability of saving and investing from the Women's Savings Group, and the overall performance and sales from Mazuri Designs.
What’s on the horizon for Girl Up Initiative Uganda?
In the next five years, GUIU intends on opening up a Girl Up Initiative Uganda home, to function as a safe space for adolescent girls. Girls who experience gender-based violence, the threat of child marriage, and other precarious situations would be welcome to stay temporarily and would receive longer-term assistance, guidance, mentorship and counseling. It would also function as a drop-in center for girls to acquire skills such as entrepreneurship, ICT, and handcrafts. We also hope to ensure Mazuri Designs becomes a fully fledged self-sustainable social enterprise that sells African-inspired merchandise, with young African women leading the business and giving them the opportunity to make a livelihood. Currently working out of a workshop behind the office space and with a page on the e-commerce site Ets, Mazuri Designs plans to open a storefront in Kampala to showcase their products and provide further employment for other vulnerable young women.
We are thrilled to have new partners like the Segal Family Foundation on board as we continue to transform our dreams into reality! Learn more about how you can get involved with GUIU and join us as a change maker.