Amina Mohamed, founded Cameras For Girls to change the lives of girls and women in Uganda, through the power of photography.
You’re a female who’s been pushed to the back of the room, told to keep quiet, or made to feel that you don’t deserve the same opportunities as males – because they are better than you. We at Cameras For Girls disagree with this sentiment and want to help clarify that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Any developing nation striving towards improving the lives of its female population would benefit significantly from adopting appropriate means that ensure female empowerment and skills development. Investing in women cannot be emphasized enough in poor communities, especially where girls may start to work very young to support their families. In the long run, this approach is bound to bring about lasting changes and sustainable economic growth and improvement in standards of living among all sections of society. The following are some ways in which appropriate means can improve the status of women around the world.
What are appropriate means?
According to UN Women: A gender perspective in skills development (GSDS) is a comprehensive approach that seeks to advance women’s equality by addressing systemic and structural barriers in labour markets and job creation for women. In other words, training programs are offered by the government and private sectors.
And what are appropriate skills or means? According to WCF: Appropriate Skills means any skill, knowledge or understanding developed through formal or non-formal education or acquired during life-long learning opportunities which can help a woman’s autonomy. For instance, when female entrepreneurs have realized their value using a positive attitude, they create hope, leading them towards success.
When do appropriate skills help women succeed?
Skills development is vital for Female empowerment around the world. Poor women in developing countries are often stuck because they lack the skills to contribute to their family’s livelihoods. But if a woman is skilled, she can pull her family out of poverty and give her children a chance at a brighter future. According to new research from UN Women, every $1 invested in scaling up an appropriate skill intervention yields $10-$20 of social benefits. That’s good news for everyone who believes that females should be empowered, which allows them to have equal rights and opportunities with men.
Through our charity Cameras For Girls, we have seen that by providing our female students with a camera to keep and the relevant skills in photography and business, they can empower themselves to find work they want and get paid more than a living wage. While our work is just beginning, it’s grassroots initiatives, such as ours, that can start to make a difference.
Working with females in Uganda in our Cameras For Girls training
Why do women develop fewer appropriate skills than men?
The most critical aspect of improving female empowerment is giving women access to financial and entrepreneurial training. These strategies can be particularly effective for developing communities where fewer appropriate means may be available due to insufficient resources. More specific research has been conducted by Gender Results, a United Nations entity committed to helping developing nations improve education systems for females. They found that when females were given access to entrepreneurial and business skills training, they took on leadership positions much more frequently and were able to increase their income and their ability to attain job positions with better wages and benefits. This kind of systemic change will take years but providing further financial opportunities for females is one crucial step towards gender equality in all aspects of life.
One of our students, Brandy Valentine Aseirwe, is a young entrepreneurial woman in Uganda, who is using her skills in photography and videography, and her new podcast to spread the message of female empowerment. She encourages more females to become involved in politics to use their voices for change.
Another is Sharon Kyatusiimire, who approached us last year to help build a website called The She Voice, which empowers other females to tell their stories and elicit change in a country where females are not viewed as equals.
These young women will herald change for females in the developing country, but it cannot be left to only two young women – all females must be empowered to stand up for the change they want to see.
What can be done to encourage more development of appropriate skills?
Businesses often complain about how difficult it is to deal with limited resources—and that’s never truer than when trying to find ways to empower women. Thus, how can businesses, local government and non-governmental organizations develop skills to help women succeed? How should companies be dealing with gender inequality in developing countries? And is training as practical as it could be when it comes to gender inequality issues?
However, with all these questions being asked, maybe we should look at how we are asking them. When considering how businesses can help empower women in developing nations, perhaps things could get a little clearer by simply looking at who has power over business decisions: men! Female empowerment sounds excellent on paper, but if you ask me what needs to change, it needs to start with women being decision-makers over their own lives and economies.
It is essential that females have meaningful employment opportunities and adequate training to develop their skills. In some cases, female empowerment has resulted in a rapid shift towards economic prosperity. Business leaders should focus on creating and supporting skill development initiatives for females in less-developed countries and not only look at the bottom line, as is often the case.
The Most Effective Models (Growing Businesses and Income, Improving Education, Improving Health Care, etc.)
Many female empowerment programs in developing countries focus on microcredit and business skills training for women. CFED (the Corporation for Enterprise Development) study found that these programs don’t work very well. The most effective models (like revolving loan funds and group-lending circles) don’t just focus on credit; they also empower women to invest in their communities’ health, education, housing, etc. These models make sure women have not only money but social support when starting or growing a business. Another positive finding is that it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re talking about urban slums or rural villages—everyone benefits from these sorts of programs.
At Cameras For Girls, while we focus on building photography and business skills for our female students, the end result is job creation. Most if not all of our students are endeavouring to become journalists. Unfortunately, to get a paid job or even be hired as a freelance journalist, they are told they must own a camera and know how to use it. We fill that gap with our program, but we don’t stop there! We ensure that they learn critical business skills to set them up for success. They also mentor the next group of females that come after them, thereby building our group-empowerment circle.
All over the world, both big and small organizations have started many development programs to empower women in developing countries. The programs are important for female empowerment, particularly ensuring that women have access to the resources they need and are not discriminated against. Women should be fully included in all areas of life, particularly in decision-making processes, such as land allocation.
In addition, it is necessary to enhance women’s self-esteem by training them on income generation and providing support services, including employment opportunities, childcare centers, health care and education. Women have much to contribute as leaders and partners in development; when allowed to reach their full potential, they can achieve great things.