Monday, January 2, 2012

Basic Business Class

Women in Uganda are responsible, first and foremost, for the food security within their household. This means that there is a need for women to do things that are home-centered or community-centered. This way, they can remain close to their homes, gardens, and children. That is why we have chosen sewing, baking, agriculture, animal rearing, and other household-centered vocations as our targeted work.

Additionally, the opportunities available in the professional market for women are extremely limited. This is changing slowly. The AIDS epidemic has forced the female workforce to step forward and help the men with their main responsibility of providing financially for the household. However, even with the social acceptance of women working, their challenges remain numerous. They, like women worldwide, balance the responsibilities of the home with the need for supplemental income. Also, just knowing how to sew a bag or bake bread does not guarantee success.

What women in Uganda possess in strength and endurance, they lack in opportunity and education. Technical skills alone are not enough to get women adequate access to income. With an average level of literacy and math skills averaging around a second grader (based on FOM demographics from 4 women's groups, 2007-2010), we saw a need for adequate adult education to accompany vocational training. Also, with generations of women's roles being limited and oppressed, confidence and self-esteem is lacking. Not to mention the obvious needs of market and product development knowledge. These facts led us to create a basic business class to use in conjunction with our vocational skills trainings. This class has become a staple of our work, as it is creating healthy group dynamics, giving valuable self-esteem, and teaching necessary business skills which will be used by our women's groups to gain an income for their families.

Written by Tara Hawks
Fount of Mercy's Director of Vocational Training and Sewing Hope

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