KAMPALA — Staff from Absa Bank Uganda have launched an ambitious drive that see upto 500 teenage mothers and women from the Central, West Nile and Albertine regions of the country receive financial literacy and other skills necessary for their getting employed or starting businesses.
Under this arrangement dubbed Women’s Network Forum (WNF), the staff members will also hand over 25 laptops that will enable the recipients in the various centres to sign up for and benefit from the bank’s Ready to Work programme, which will help them develop Work, People, Money and Entrepreneurial Skills.
The beneficiaries – who will also receive training in gardening, baking, crocheting and knitting, and financial literacy – are drawn from Wakisa Ministries Uganda in Wakiso, The Association for the Rehabilitation and Re-orientation of Women for Development (TERREWODE) in Soroti and Integrated Efforts for Youth and Women Empowerment Uganda (IEYAWE Uganda) in Kyegegwa, Western Uganda.
“For a majority of teenage mothers, having a baby more often than not leaves few options for self-sufficiency, with many dropping out of school, opting for early marriages or other vices as safety nets. Through this intervention, we will empower these ladies to continue their journey of education and obtain the skills they need to navigate the world of work and build a life for their families, ” said Irene Mutyaba – Absa’s Corporate Banking Director and Patron of the WNF during a ceremony where laptops, foodstuffs and clothing items were handed over to Wakisa Ministries Uganda in Wakiso.
According to the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) fact sheet on teenage pregnancy for 2021 , a total of 290,219 teenage pregnancies were recorded in Uganda from January to September 2021, translating to over 32,000 monthly.
The body – quoting data from the District Health Information System (DHIS-2) – also says there was a 17 per cent spike in teenage pregnancies between March 2020 and June 2021.
The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) 2020 National Survey on Violence in Uganda indicated that limited support is given to teenage mothers to stay in or return to school, and due to the stigma attached to teenage pregnancy, some young girls opt for marriage over returning to school .
Mrs Vivian Kityo, the Director of Wakisa Ministries – a charity that offers temporary shelter, educational opportunities and counselling support to pre-teen and teenage girls with unwanted pregnancies, said “Education and skills development are integral to empowering teenage mothers.
“I appreciate Absa for this support because by educating these ladies, they will get to be part of a productive community after the stigma they face in society and also get the opportunity to learn skills that will help them develop income-generating activities to help them provide for their families.”
She added that it would take an intentional and concerted effort by multiple stakeholders to help Uganda’s teenage mothers escape the shackles of poverty, illiteracy and misery that follow unwanted pregnancies.
Absa Bank Uganda staff have collectively raised UGX10 million, which will go towards the purchase of dry foods to supplement the dietary needs of the mothers and their children.
Absa’s Mutyaba added, “We believe that for Uganda and Africa to truly develop, education and skills development will be key to helping our young population get the skills needed to support their employability and self-employability. This is part of our commitment to being a force for good in the communities within which we operate.”