Beyond Creativity, Nurturing Skills for Young Rural Women

Immaculate Amoit
Posted March 2, 2017 from Kenya
Young Samburu Woman beading a necklace in Umoja Uaso, Kenya. The beads are liked worldwide and are used by most Kenya women as jewelry
Photo by Aaron Kisner, Courtesy of Pinterest

With teenage pregnancy and limited employment opportunities on the rise and 38% of adolescent girls are mothers in Western Kenya, there are other disturbing statistics that indicate that the unemployment rate stands at 40%.Sadly fact is that seven out of 10 jobless people are youth which young women fall into. I was forced to embark on long, scary and an uncertain journey from Busia to Kakamega. This was not only my journey but a journey for many teenage mothers and resigned young women in my community. Though physically I knew where I was travelling to and who I was going to meet; my mind travelled to unknown place, where I had carried both my dream and that of others. A quest to help teenage mothers and other young rural women from my community whom I felt needed to be rescued from the cycle of poverty, education barriers, limited unemployment prospects, discrimination and sometimes endless emotional and physical abuse. This day I wasn’t sure if Caroline and her friend Tracy will support my work which had just taken off. In case they did, then my journey would have borne fruits. By this time I had held only one County Mentorship Camp and was looking forward to many more that will be life changing to the next generation of women and girls. It was time to diversify, scale up our programs and include out of school teens who needed other skills to generate an income. I wasn’t sure if Caroline and her friend Tracy would support my work which had just taken off however, they were able to provide me with resources that made it possible. I am glad we did this together, for together, we rise stronger. I strongly believe that every woman has the right to learn a new skill and be educated in order to contribute adequately towards the continuous growth of the society.

Weeks later, I was teaching Caroline and Tracy how to use a computer, bake biscuits, bread and ice cakes, crotchet rugged mats. During our learning I asked them to extend their skills to training other young women who needed the skills more than I did. They did come on board and it was a force to reckon with. Caroline and Tracy are known for making and selling crotched baby, clothes, head bands, sling bags, beaded jewelry and all other hand made creations they can put their minds onto. They couldn’t further their education due to financial reasons acquiring these skills on their own no one taught them! By the time we met, they were sustaining their families with the money acquired from their creativity and skills. Skills such as sewing, knitting, crocheting mats , beading jewelry for enterprise development is what I yearned for other young women in rural Western Kenya especially teenage mothers who are not able to be reintegrated in to the education system. Being an apprentice of the Empowerment institute made it easier for me to facilitate and train Caroline, Tracy and two other young women how to facilitate trainings and thus supported the roll out for Boresha Dada Program (Swahili for improve a girls/womans’ life better) and the impact has been incredible. More than 100 women have learned a new skill and have formed table banking groups to fundraise for raw materials and have a support network among them. Skills development initiatives can facilitate the acquisition of better work, equality and entrepreneurship among women. The aforementioned is backed by a recent study by researchgate.net which states that skill development can be used as an agent of change in promoting women’s employment, rights and reducing income inequalities.

Women in both developing and developed face the challenge of Gender Equality when it comes to all aspects of their lives. Rural women are adversely affected of the two groups. They form the backbone of rural and national economies, comprising 43% of the world’s agricultural labor force, and up to 70% in some countries. Yet, despite these 145 out of 195 countries guaranteed equality between women and men in their constitutions; rural women are less likely to work for wages than rural men and typically work longer hours than men. Rural women represent two-thirds of all illiterate people.

These basically means that rural women are a great resource to the universe and if trained they can use the skills gained effectively. Studies have delved in to how skills development is a critical link required to turn equality of basic educational access into equality of opportunity, and this is true in both the developed and developing world. Access to skills development opportunities, however, remains unequal, with skills development initiatives often marginalizing groups who need them most. Whilst being educated proved that it has strong links with life chances, less attention has been paid to recognize equal access to skills development opportunities which prepare individuals to earn an income.

There are however challenges facing rural women and girls’ ability to participate in learning and skills development. These include; Women’s access to training opportunities is also limited by insufficient resources in many places. We overcome this challenge by holding our trainings under a tree or public social halls and seek support form volunteers. Technical and Vocational Education Training can require greater levels of initial resource such as hands-on and practical nature. Whilst owning tools required for training may also help a person move from training into work, covering the initial cost can be prohibitive. Thirdly there is poor limited access to reliable data in skills development and entrepreneurship where you can’t really find disaggregated data, more advocacies should therefore be conducted so that governments, development organizations would collaborate to collect and analyze data as regards skills development and entrepreneurship among young rural women.

Every government has the responsibility involve women during the decision making process for their training requirements, skills development programs are more fit for purpose.

Vocational skill training is all encompassing, very central and expedient for the acquisition of abilities and competencies essential for purposes of employment and poverty reduction. It is expedient for women to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and experiences they require to perform effectively their social, economic and political roles. Women in Technical education can also encourage young rural women. Introduction of Mobile Electricty (a solar panel that can sustained through all electrical devices and its paid by using airtime) to help women learn digital skills and access internet connection so that they can gain skills, knowledge and also market their products while online through various platforms. In our Empowerment Workshop we share how women can help eradicate poverty and improving their own health and their children’s health and education. The UNESCO paper argues that in order for women to have equal access to skills development opportunities, and equal opportunities to put their skills to work to provide decent livelihoods, the cycle of limited access to training, lack of decent work opportunities, and lack of power in both public and domestic contexts needs to be addressed holistically. Research suggests that assets controlled by women have a positive and significant effect on expenditure allocations towards the next generation, such as education and children's clothing. Through skills training and empowerment courses Western Twaweza Empowerment Campaign in partnership with Positive and Active Towards Change Organization has empowered many women to take control of their own lives and support their families, but to empower others in their communities. Additionally, employability and the exercise of citizenship rights are strengthened when young women are able to adapt their abilities needs and knowledge to the competencies required by the labor context and when they can see themselves as creators of their own future, identifying their own skills, wishes, possibilities and difficulties and thereby make their way in life.’

We can only achieve Sustainable Development Goals if we address gender inequality and talent and skills development among young women for income generation particularly in countries where it is most pronounced such as Kenya. The training process is seen as supporting and strengthening the individuals’ ability to gain skills for a particular purpose, usually income generation.

Bibliography

Dr Sudha Babel and Surbhi Sharma; International Journal For Home Science 2016, “Impact on Skill Development Training Among Rural Women for Entrepreneurship”

Kate Shoesmith and Kathleen Collett , “Paper commissioned for the EFA Global monitoring Report, Putting Education to Work”

Adeyemo Comfort Wuraola; International Journal of Research and Reviews in Education, “Implementing Vocational Skills and training among Rural Women for equal access to Qualitative Education”

How to Get Involved

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This story was submitted in response to Share On Any Topic.

Comments 5

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Rahmana Karuna
Mar 02, 2017
Mar 02, 2017

Immah,

i so relate to your whole story, even living in the usa. so pervasive is inequality and poverty of "families"=woman w child. oops, where is the sperm donor? if, if only, if only we could turn the shame around, on the perpetrators, on the fathers of babies. at least we do have a system in the state i live in, to collect dollars from paychecks of nonpaying fathers. though that doesn't always happen. but you have given us, our little nonprofit that we used to produce V-Day in our very vagina unfriendly rural poor town. We just had a popcorning session on what we can do next, and i am bringing this story of yours to our next meeting. thank you so very much for all the wonderful  things you are bringing to women in need, and spreading that knowledge to the world. yea world pulse. blessings on your path.

Immaculate Amoit
Mar 18, 2017
Mar 18, 2017

Dear Karuna,

Thank you so much for relating to my story, its humbling that you have used it in your own training.Its true women both young and old go through a lot but when opportunity to better themselves arises they grab it and make their lives and childrens and other peoples lives better.

Thank you too for providing the women with a platform to tap their potential and excel.

Much love

JANEKALU
Mar 06, 2017
Mar 06, 2017

Dear Immah, the problem  of women empowerment is a global issue that should not  be handled with  kid glove. we can not talk about women liberation when so many women can not sustain themselves financially.So their  is more call for women empowerment. I really appreciate all the effort you are putting to empower more women is your country.You cup shall not run dry.

Cheers

Jane Kalu

Immaculate Amoit
Mar 18, 2017
Mar 18, 2017

Dear Jane,

It is true that women across the globe need economic empowerment because we have the in born ability to multiply whatever we are given to make it enough for everyone. Thanks too for empowering women in your community

Much love

ngozimoguguah
Mar 19, 2017
Mar 19, 2017

I am inspired by your story, you  are making a positive change in your community. Keep up the great work.