The ICF tailoring program aims to build sustainable livelihoods and enhance the economic empowerment of women and girls, ages 16 and above, so they can become economically self-sufficient and build their confidence. In Uganda, with 83% youth unemployment and 50% of its population being under 30years, the unfortunate reality is that women and girls suffer disproportionately from the burden of extreme poverty: 70% of the world’s extreme poor are women and girls. In Uganda, young women and girls live in a male-dominated society that dictates women’s subordination and economic reliance on men for survival so that it is even harder for them to escape the cycle of extreme poverty. Without equal educational and economic opportunities, girls are never able to fully realize their potential. Young women and girls also experience high rates of gender violence and abuse at school and in the home without knowing their human and child’s rights. By the age of 18, a Ugandan girl has a 50% chance that she is married and a 33% chance that she already has children
When the overall well being of girls is put at the forefront of development interventions, a girl can understand the importance of gaining control over her life and body. She will develop her confidence as an empowered girl and begin to speak up against violence. This lowers her chance of falling into the major pitfalls of child marriage, sexual violence, exposure to HIV/AIDS, and teenage pregnancy (Uganda has one of the highest rates in the world).
It crucial to ensure that young women have the skills to succeed in the informal sector and as entrepreneurs. ICF tailoring program enables under-served young women to develop and strengthen their businesses to increase their incomes, learn new vocational skills, and join a community of supportive women. The program is multi-faceted and includes: making jewelry, sewing clothes and bags, Business Training and Mentorship Project, which also improves their marketable skills, vocational training. This project financially empowers young girls and women by creating the platform to produce beautiful clothing and accessories, discover clients, provide good customer service, and master sewing and mending skills, so they can become economically self-reliant and support themselves and their families.
Iam children’s foundation recognizes that education, specifically a holistic life skills training program, and economic empowerment programs are key to unlocking the barriers of poverty and gender inequality. When girls have access to an education, they are more likely to earn an income—with 4% more of a return than boys if they complete secondary school. And every year a girl is in school, it increases her future earnings by 10%. Yet, keeping girls in school is a challenge due to negative cultural attitudes towards girls’ education. In Uganda, 85% of girls leave school early, resulting in $10 billion in lost potential earnings— which is a massive socio-economic waste at a national level.
It is well known that investing in girls early in their development has a ripple effect. Studies show that educated and empowered girls receive better wages, raise healthier and better-educated children, are less likely to experience domestic violence, and contribute to the development of their communities.