Amina Mohamed, founded Cameras For Girls to change the lives of girls and women in Uganda, through the power of photography.
The worldwide pandemic did a number on all businesses and organizations around the world. However, where it made a devastating impact was for the countless non-profit organizations, such as Cameras For Girls, who tirelessly work to make a difference for those they support.
I am proud to state that the pandemic might have affected our students and our work with Cameras For Girls. Still, it did not stop us nor them from pursuing our goals, which is to help females in the developing world fight for gender equality and alleviate poverty for themselves and their families.
Girls working at their family shop instead of being in school, Uganda @Amina Mohamed Photography
Cameras For Girls is Making a Difference for Females in Uganda
Cameras For Girls was formed to make a difference for females, striving to become journalists in Uganda and other under-developed nations. Uganda, like many other countries, has been hit very hard. As Uganda enters into yet another lock-down, with mass fear around the vaccine, these females are directly impacted by the inability to find full-time work. Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate was relatively high. Post-COVID, it will be, of course, much higher.
Unfortunately, females are not viewed as necessary in the developing world. Their contributions could make a massive difference in the economy as a whole; however, misogynistic views, old-world thinking around females working outside of the home, and even lack of belief and confidence in the female herself, holds them back from moving forward.
UNWOMEN States That Women Still Have Gains To Make For Equality
Let me share some disturbing facts that most living in the developed world do not know. According to the UN Women:
- Women’s economic empowerment is directed tied to gender inequality. In Uganda, females face gender inequality both in the possibility of finding work and more so in their pay. Males tend to get paid 17% more than females, not because they are more skilled for the job, but simply because they are male.
- When women work, the economy grows. Most of my students were young mothers. They had gone through university, but the Ugandan society and the church preach for women to breed as many children as possible. However, they don’t preach or teach them how to feed, clothe and most importantly, educate their children. For young women, who had an opportunity to be educated, their parents were also educated and see the value of an education to build the economy for all. They know this leads to the alleviation of poverty. However, the cycle propagates with those who were not unfortunately educated and don’t understand the value of education over their daughters working the fields, tending to the younger children, or marrying off to support their families. It’s a cycle that must be broken. However, with a government that does not support education as a right and/or see the value in females in the workplace, how will this ever change?
- Increasing women’s economic equality is good for business. Employing women in positions of power has shown that companies benefit from increased efficiency and growth.
- Gender differences affect both developed and developing economies. “Globally, over 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men. Of 189 economies assessed in 2018, 104 economies still have laws preventing women from working in specific jobs, 59 economies have no laws on sexual harassment in the workplace, and in 18 economies, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working.” The last time I checked, we were in the 21st century. So what the hell is going on? Why have we not moved the needle against gender inequality and pay? Cameras For Girls teaches our girls about photography, and we also equip them with business skills and the confidence to go out and find a job that will pay them well and help them get out of poverty.
Amina showing Annet how to operate her camera at the Cameras For Girls workshop, August 2019 Image captured by @DanielMoxie0
The Pandemic Halted Our Work in Uganda, But It Won’t Stop Us
To date, we completed two in-person photography workshops in Kampala, Uganda; however, due to the pandemic and the shut-down, we could not do our third in-person workshop in 2020 and nor does it look possible for 2021. However, even with the pandemic and its relentless assault, I am proud to share that our students are not letting it affect them and their drive to make a difference for themselves and their families.
One of my students who had trouble finishing the course due to her own financial constraints emailed me last month to say she had an opportunity to take some photos of President Museveni. This assignment could potentially lead to a job as a press photographer or, at the very least, give her some opportunities to promote herself. Yvonne was in our second training in June 2019. She was a single mom and was looking forward to graduation in her last year and putting her newfound photography skills to use as she is passionate about visual storytelling. However, once COVID came about, she had to quit school and the photography training, as she had no support and had to find work to take care of her young son.
Yvonne Is Determined To Use her Photography Skills To Alleviate Poverty
Yvonne reached out as she had sold the camera that we had provided to support herself. She reached out to a friend, who thankfully lent her his DSLR; however, she had no idea how to use it as it was different from the camera we had given her. Over zoom, we spent a few days reviewing the photography aspects she had forgotten and going over the various settings on the camera to be well-prepared for the shoot. The night before the shoot, we spent an hour reviewing lighting as she did not know if it would be indoors or outdoors or if it would be sunny or cloudy, so we studied all the lighting scenarios. She practiced in her tiny room while we worked out the technical details of the camera she had borrowed.
The day after the shoot, she sent me some photos, and I was so proud to see what she could do with so few days of refreshing her skills. She was also proud as she could fulfill the assignment, which furthered her confidence and determination to be a press photographer.
We were also able to pay off her loan, and she was able to get her camera back, which she is once again using to document her life in Uganda during COVID. Yvonne is determined to use her photography skills to alleviate poverty for herself and her family.
President Museveni in Kampala @Yvonne Nakhaima
Photo of President Museveni on stage as soldiers walk on by @Yvonne Nakhaima
Photography and Business Skills That Are Making A Difference For Females in the Developing World
By providing opportunities, such as photography and business training, and economic help when needed, Cameras For Girls can make a difference for females in Uganda. We are not there for the short-term, but we are there throughout their training and beyond. We are vested in helping females bridge the gender-divide, and providing training to help them get out of poverty.
The pandemic might have halted our programming and growth, especially when we were on an upswing, but it has not stopped us. We will continue to persevere to make a difference for females in Uganda and other developing nations.
Please support us so that we can help others. All funds donated through our Go Fund Me campaign go directly towards purchasing cameras for our training and our female students’ support during this challenging time under the pandemic.