Apart from attending sewing and hairdressing workshops, the girls take time out to have fun which includes playing football and amateur dramatics. This enables the girls to bond as a group whilst having fun at the same time. More importantly, girls gain confidence in the process. When most of the girls first arrive, they appear shy and unable to speak up. This is sometimes because they have been isolated from people their own age.
This is Sarah who was part of the second cohort of the sewing class and she was one of the girls who lacked confidence when she arrived at the workshop. Today, she leads the girls’ football team.
In December we held a parents day which was attended by officers from Itojo sub-county and the day’s entertainment was from the girls. we were treated to songs, local dances and skits. Like their parents, I was surprised at how talented the girls are and some even talked about forming an amateur theatrics club.
I loved skit. It is a scene inside a head teacher’s office on the first day of school
We have been running a Skills Development Initiative in Itojo Sub-county since May 2016. Our aim is to enable girls aged between 15-25 that are not in Employment, Education or Training (NEETs) acquire skills that they can use to create their own employment or seek employment elsewhere.
The first phase of this initiative focused on sewing machine operation, fabric construction, fashion design and at the end of the year last we carried out a survey amongst the youth in the community to find out what skills they were interested in. The girls that were surveyed voted for hairdressing overwhelmingly.
We visited various beauty salons to try and understand what is required to set up a hairdressing workshop and in February this year, we opened the doors to the first cohort of girls aged between 15-25.
Uniforms were ordered
And the hard work started
The course is offered on a one-year basis after which the girls will seek employment elsewhere or create their own employment and the easiest way to do this is if the girls become mobile hairdressers.
Workshops such as this are a lifeline for Uganda’s rural youth especially girls. This is because most drop out of school due to a lack of schools fees. These girls are unemployable due to a lack of skills or proper education and most work the land whilst they wait to be married off.
Why does this matter?
Uganda’s National Bureau of statics (UBOS) reports that amongst 18-30-year-olds 57% are self-employed, 24% work for someone, of those in employment 63% work in agriculture, 29% in the service industry whilst 8% are in manufacturing.
In addition that unemployment amongst the youth in Kampala, Uganda’s capital stands at 15% and is three times higher than the national average. Underemployment is high, at least 14.1 Million young people in rural areas are unemployed due to a lack of skills.
The situation in Ntungamo district where Itojo Sub County is located is that 85% of the population is aged between 15-30 years and the incidence of unemployment amongst this age group is 90%. In addition, there are no skills training colleges locally and as such, we are overwhelmed with requests for this type of training.