Community leaders have been asked to be part of the effort to break barriers against advancement of the girl child. 

Damalie Amaguru, the Uganda country coordinator for the Aga Khan foundation’s AGECS (Advocating for Gender Equality through Civil Society) project said breaking of barriers produces empowered women that can contribute to national and community social and economic progress.

She was on Saturday speaking at a ceremony where fifty school drop-outs graduated after skilling supported by the AKF and the Canadian Foundation for Empowerment and Education Initiative.

Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU), a not for profit organization focused on girl-child protection and promotion delivered the training under its Let Her Shine (LHS) project.

The training also saw over fifty community leaders in Mukono and Makindye Division (Kampala) trained to do advocacy, protection and promotion of the girl child. 

Amaguru urged the girls to pass on the knowledge they acquired to colleagues who may not by now have got opportunity to be equally skilled.  Among the skills imparted to the girls are reproductive health and family planning, entrepreneurship, basic book keeping, tailoring and hair dressing.

Somon Sserunyaze, the Let Her Shine project manager explained that family planning had been included in the skills because so often young girls who have failed to advance in their education end with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies which further complicates their capacity to improve their lives.  They are also vulnerable to HIV and sexually transmitted diseases as they are lured into sex for financial gain.

Johnson Kiiza, the PHAU programs manager said twenty-five per cent of girls in Uganda get pregnant at under eighteen years of age and are thereafter abandoned and condemned to single-motherhood.

He said that for the project impact to trickle to the wider community, the beneficiaries had been tasked before graduation to each train five underprivileged colleagues in the community before their graduation, a task they fulfilled in the project’s “give free that what you were given free” spirit.

One of the graduands, on behalf of colleagues said the project had changed her life, gaining her public speaking skills, something she did not envisage.  The girls promised they would put to use the skills they had acquired. 

Julius Bakashaba Mugarura, the Makindye Division community development officer commended the organisations that made the girls’ training possible, saying their contribution amounted to “teach me how to fish, don’t give me a fish” principle.

He urged the girls to put the acquired skills to use by building them into enterprises they should concertedly seek to expand by exploiting government projects and other credit facilities.

The Let Her Shine project is a five-year project that started in 2020 but was interrupted for two years by the COVID-19 pandemic.  It ends in May 2025.

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