In Uganda, women and girls can be at an increased risk of violence, abuse and discrimination. 3 out of every 5 unemployed people in Uganda are women.
Of working women around the world, many work in the informal sector (such as washing clothes, informal food stalls or selling produce at the market) and, as markets and businesses closed due to the pandemic, millions of women’s jobs, earnings, and savings disappeared overnight, combined with a significant rise in food prices.
As our CEO Olivia explains;
"A large number of people we work with are employed in the informal sector, working in markets, or selling goods at the side of the road, and the majority are women. So when the pandemic and lockdown happened many lost their incomes overnight, with fewer opportunities for work [due to markets closing], pushing many families further into poverty.”
Through our Women’s Initiatives, we provide specialised support for women living in poverty in the slums of Kampala. Our projects bring women together to undertake skills training sessions. The Skills for Life project grew from a decade of work with women in the slums through our community-driven Women’s Initiative Groups. These are groups of women who meet to share skills and develop income generating projects. Many women desired to learn professional tailoring or knitting skills that would enable them to start up their own businesses, so following close consultation with Women’s Initiative Groups and the wider community, we developed the Skills for Life training programme.
“This project has raised my confidence because I have been able to learn all the things that I wanted to. I really wanted to sew baby clothes but I didn’t know how, now I can do it and it makes me feel empowered”. Shona* shares what the sewing and knitting project meant to her
Through these workshops, the women also gain confidence, friendships and new support networks. These have the power to be transformational, with at least 200 women completing the programme each year. To date we have provided training to over 1000 people.
"I am very proud of the skill I have acquired, as it is going to change my life forever... I believe it is going to help me meet the needs of my family." Rita*, one of the graduates from our tailoring and knitting course.
We teach women how to make various crafts and textile items which are available from our Etsy online shop. All the profits from sales of these items go directly back to the women and help to provide them with a sustainable source of income for their families.
When women graduate from the Skills for Life course, they also receive an official government recognised qualification in the form of a certificate accredited by Uganda’s Directorate of Industrial Training. Our team provides the required start-up equipment, such as a sewing or knitting machines, to ensure graduates can then go on to start their own businesses or find employment with tailoring businesses in the city, enabling them to access a sustainable livelihood and lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
Annet* graduated from the course in December 2022:
"I came to know about the tailoring project through the community radio in our area. My parents couldn’t afford for me to finish school so I decided to join the skilling project to give me something useful to do and gain a new skill to learn. I can’t wait to start running my own business. My favourite part of my tailoring journey is that now I can sew something beautiful on my own like this dress that I am putting on. I have also made new friends through this course. A huge thank you to Kids Club Kampala for this opportunity.”
We also run support groups for girls that focus on talking about issues such as: early and forced marriage, teenage pregnancy, health, sex education, menstrual hygiene and personal security. These groups provide girls with a safe space to discuss ideas, ask difficult questions and receive emotional support. In addition to the group sessions we also offer individual counselling for girls who have been abused, neglected or need support.
Investing in women and girls is crucial for addressing poverty and contributing to sustainable development. With your support, we can empower more women like Shona to move from surviving to thriving.
It costs £85 to support another woman on a four month accredited vocational course.
*names have been changed
 António Guterres, “‘Put Women and Girls at the Centre of Efforts to Recover from COVID-19,’” United Nations, 2020, https://www.un.org/en/un-coronavirus-communications-team/put-women-and-girls-centre-efforts-recover-covid-19.