Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New US-funded project seeks to ‘free’ more than 170 school-girls

At least 175 girls from seven secondary schools across the country will benefit from a $100,000 (about Shs230 million) mentoring programme over the next two years.

The initiative, funded by the United States government in partnership with Ugandan NGOs, seeks to empower young women aged 14-25 to become economically independent and socially responsible leaders.

Students to benefit from the initiative, which has been named the "Rising Stars Mentoring Programme," were drawn from Nabisunsa Girls School, Trinity College, Nabbingo, Mbogo High School, Gayaza High School, Bweranyangi Girls School, St. Mary's College, Aboke, and Tororo Girls School.

Speaking during the launch of the programme at his residence in Kampala yesterday, the US Ambassador to Uganda, Mr Jerry Lanier, said it combines education with life skills, leadership and mentoring. "The goal is to enable [the girls] to focus their thinking, take charge of their destiny, transform their lives and consequently improve their communities," he said.

Ambassador Lanier added that the US would remain committed to the programme because it highlights the goals that the US Mission in Kampala stands for every day like investing in people and creating economic growth. "Empowering the next generation of women is vital to Uganda's future," he said.

"Half of your population is under the age of 18. The young women (to benefit from the mentoring programme) represent the hope and resources of this beautiful country." The Founder of the Century Entrepreneurship Development Agency International, which will implement the programme, Ms Rehmah Kasule, said the greatest challenge facing Uganda is the failure of the education system to empower people as leaders to solve the problems facing the country.

Arguing that such challenge mainly affects women and children, Ms Kasule said the initiative is part of a commitment to uplift women by giving them key empowerment tools to become the best at whatever they choose to do.

"Women lack confidence, self-belief, negotiating skills, and have limited access to mentors and role models to inspire them. Today, we must move from advocacy action. The solution is not advocating for women's rights and equal opportunities, rather the solution is equipping women with key skills to become competitive and relevant in the job market."

Ms Kasule said the pioneer programme will take two years in which the girls learn key skills such as self-discovery, confidence, financial literacy, communication, goal setting and critical thinking.



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