KAMPALA – The Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Amongi Betty Ongom has implored the girl-child to break the barriers and seek opportunities in fields that have traditionally been tagged to be for men.
“The NRM Government has over the years promoted the emancipation of women and today there is enough evidence to show that what a man can do, women can do. It’s now time for women and girls to go out and get those jobs that we grew up thinking are only done by men,” Amongi said.
She was speaking at the opening of a new skilling facility at the Smart Girls Foundation at Kirerika ku Mbuzi along the Gazaya road in Kampala on Friday.
The facility extends vocational and business skills to the girl child with the aim of transforming their lives and those of their loved ones.
A brainchild of Jamila Mayanja, the Chief Executive Officer, the Foundation commenced in 2012 with a mission to empower and mentor girls by developing their confidence and life skills. Its programs are aimed improving their ability to realize their dreams, and to contribute to positive social transformation.
The new facility commissioned under “The Girls with Tools project” is set to offer three month hands–on courses for young women in vocational areas like machinery welding, automotive mechanics, electric installation, carpentry, construction and home painting. The program also includes arts and crafts like tailoring, basket weaving and much more.
Minister Amongi commended the practical experience of girls doing automotive mechanics, electrical engineering and carpentry and urged the learners to perfect their skills as such skills are currently marketable locally, regionally and internationally.
“I am very happy that you have taken on jobs that were traditionally tagged to be for men. Please go ahead and perfect your skills so that you are able to beat the biases out there,” The Minister noted.
She cautioned the learners of the unfair biases that await them in the field and encouraged them that this would be defeated by doing perfect jobs.
She emphasized that the government is committed to investing in skilling young people as exhibited by the various initiatives including the Presidential Initiative on Skilling the Girl-Child and equipping the Business and Technical Vocational institutions to enable girls and young women to acquire the necessary skills to secure jobs or start up their own businesses.
She pledged to provide start-up tool kits through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development-run Green Jobs programme.
The South African High Commissioner to Uganda, Her Excellency Lulama Mary Theresa Xingwana who graced the occasion commended the founders for their vision to empower girls and women. She called for more skills that will drive production and value-addition to locally available minerals and other raw materials.
She noted that the high number of young people in Uganda is a huge resource that can be used to drive up production.
The MTN general manager in charge of Wholesale and Carrier Services, Ms. Juliet Kakayi Nsubuga, revealed that they had partnered with the Smart Girls Foundation and up to Shs300 million had been spent on constructing the new facilities.
Ms. Jamila Mayanja said the girls also get additional workshop trainings that include entrepreneurship, life skills, gender issues and financial literacy.
“We also partner our girls with local workshops and garages to provide them with job opportunities and encourage them to start their own businesses in these sectors upon course completion.” She revealed.
She revealed that the Foundation also has footprint in South Africa where they conduct resourceful trainings and mentoring sessions in schools and communities that enable young girls to have the confidence to speak out about the issues that matter to them.