Amina Mohamed, founded Cameras For Girls to change the lives of girls and women in Uganda, through the power of photography.
As the Executive Director of Cameras For Girls, I’m proud to say that our program has helped women across Africa take their careers to new heights in male-dominated fields like journalism and photography. For instance, Vivian Nantambi took our 3-day photography workshop in 2019, followed by our year-long online training, and built her career as an Executive Director of a non-profit called The Network Girls Tech Initiative Uganda.
Female Empowerment in Photography
In a land where gender stereotypes are often a reality, women carving out a career for themselves can be challenging. But that hasn’t stopped many in Uganda from fighting to improve their opportunities. This is where an increasing number of training platforms like Cameras For Girls become essential. Starting in 2018, CFG has helped train more than 32 females in Uganda and 10 in South Africa since its inception and continues to do so today with our most recent class of fifteen young women (including Vivian) who are now building long-term careers as a result of their training received at CFG.
Sadly, COVID impacted our 3rd training in 2020, but we are happy to report that we will be returning to Uganda in June 2022 to train 15 more young women.
One student commented that these young girls and women are empowered by having a supportive community. She also said they were excited to be able to tell important stories, but could never make it into a local newspaper, because they lacked a camera and/or knowing how to use it, which is a requirement to get full-time paid work or even freelance work.
The Challenges of Being a Woman in the Industry
Despite how far we’ve come, there’s still more work to be done. Women in Africa still have more difficulty finding paid work amid societal pressures. And yet, once women can establish themselves and put themselves in a position to challenge the status quo, it’s reasonable to assume they will accomplish just about anything that life throws their way. With accomplished women like Esther-Ruth Mbabazi and Miriam Watsemba–and so many others like them–showcasing their craft day in and day out — journalism should encourage more and more women to step up and take part in its betterment.
However, journalism is not the only end-goal. Many of our students come into the program thinking that they can only use the camera for their journalism careers, but as they start delving into the craft, they begin to gain a passion for photography as an art form and see where else they can use it.
What Photography Has Done For Vivian
Some of our students have started their own businesses offering their services as headshot, wedding and event photographers, forgoing the journalism industry entirely. Vivian Nantambi always loved photography, and after graduating from the program, she used it to catapult her career into her present position as the Executive Director of a non-profit in Uganda.
Here’s what she had to say about what has happened since. After graduating from the program and my university program, I got a job in communications. From that position and the confidence I had from taking both the CFG training and the job, I was approached to be the Executive Director of The Network Girl Tech Initiative. I love this job because I get to go out and talk to the community and educate them about the different things we are doing. For instance, we teach young girls and boys about menstrual health or talk to people about the environment and how we can do our part to protect it. My photography comes in handy because I get to tell the stories of what we are doing not only through words but also through my photos.
Future Goals For Cameras For Girls
So, where is Cameras For Girls heading? Cameras For Girls has been so successful in East Africa, and there’s nothing to suggest it won’t be successful elsewhere. We see our expansion into other countries across Africa, focusing on those with a high need for female empowerment. We will ensure that wherever we work, our target group of young women are given cameras to expand their creative abilities and job prospects. We will also start expanding our programming from just photography to include other avenues of female empowerment, such as providing business skills training and assistance with mental health (which is not spoken of).
Here’s the interview with Vivian https://youtu.be/GIbvrdC3dzE