Girls should be in school not working @Amina Mohamed Photography

CAMERAS FOR GIRLS TURNS OPPRESSION INTO OPPORTUNITY FOR FEMALES IN UGANDA

I recently read a great book called “Half The Sky – Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” It’s a difficult read due to the subject matter but crucial in the fight for women’s rights against physical and sexual abuse, poverty, and gender inequality.

Living in Canada, we are not always attuned to these issues that our fellow females face in developing countries. 

Equipping Our Students With Photography and Entrepreneurial Skills

A considerable part of our work at Cameras For Girls, aside from teaching photography to local girls in Uganda, who are endeavouring to become journalists, is the entrepreneurial skills we teach.

Amina helping Hafitha with her camera at the Cameras For Girls workshop in Kampala, Uganda

Amina helping Hafitha with her camera at the Cameras For Girls workshop in Kampala, Uganda

What good is photography training if it does not result in a job?  

Without paid work of any kind, these young women are trapped in a cycle of poverty inherent in the developing world.  

While we hope that our work will expand to other developing countries soon, we have started making an impact in Uganda by enabling 11 of our 32 students to find full-time employment. Admittedly, there is still much work to do.

One of my students, who originates from Kenya, but did her education in Uganda at Makerere University, returned to Kenya after graduating to be near her son and her family. We have been working together for approx. 6 months to help her find full-time work. We worked on her resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile to make sure she stood out from her competitors.

The good news she got offered a job in communications. The bad news is that she was told that she would have to pay the hiring manager for that job with money or sex once she accepted the position. Yes, you read that correctly – money or sex.

Amina teaching in Uganda @Cameras For Girls

Amina teaching in Uganda @Cameras For Girls

Females Have To Fight For Power in Male-Dominated Societies

Sadly, many developing countries are fertile ground for this kind of activity. Front-facing us when we visit, we see the bountiful nature, beaches, safari, and endless excursions to build your bucket list. However, we don’t see the corruption, deep-rooted sexism, and gender inequality that leads many young women to sell themselves for money to feed themselves and their families on the back-end. Even worse, once a girl is exploited sexually, she does not realize her worth and will resist efforts to get out of the trade for fear of where her next meal will come from. Sadly sexual exploitation also leads to sex trafficking and imprisonment by their traffickers. Girls are promised a better life and a job only to find themselves being sex slaves, far away from home and family.

While tourism is vital to their economy, females are given less power in a very male-dominated society. Governments are lax in enforcing rules against this type of behaviour, and thus, many young women looking to carve out a niche for themselves are forced to accept the job under dire conditions. Even worse, once a female does trade herself for a job, she finds it difficult to move up in ranks because her reputation has already been soiled.

The statistics are scary and growing due to the pandemic. 

We have read about the effects the pandemic has had worldwide across various sectors, such as travel and employment. However, we don’t give mind to the ill effects of society, such as human trafficking.

When one thinks of human trafficking, we think of crossing borders; however, the most common form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation, with a predominance of girls and women being affected. More surprisingly, in the 30% of countries that the UN documented, women were the traffickers of other women. This fact shocked me the most.

My student refused the offer of the job and instead is focusing her efforts to take the photography skills she learned through Cameras For Girls and offer her photography services to local businesses and families in her community.  

In her email to me, she stated, “while I am despondent, I cannot put to use my communication skills and the education I worked so hard for, I refuse to sell myself, to get a job. I will persevere, and one day I will find a job that suits me. In the meantime, I will use my photography skills to push myself forward.” 

One of the main reasons we started Cameras For Girls is to help girls in developing countries move past poverty, gender inequality, oppression, suppression, and sexual exploitation. 

Girls should be in school not working @Amina Mohamed Photography

Girls should be in school not working @Amina Mohamed Photography

How can you help us galvanize our movement for girls in Uganda?

You can donate to our Go Fund Me Campaign. With the funds we raise, we purchase much-needed cameras for our programming, and we support our girls during this difficult time of the pandemic. We send funds to buy food, pay rent and allow safe travel while looking for work.

You can share with your network and let them know how girls in developing countries are faced with things we cannot imagine in Canada and the US.

You can donate to KIVA to help women build their small businesses. Your loan will help her develop her confidence, find meaningful work, pay it forward in her community, and change women’s lives everywhere.

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