Written by Adrienne Green, Interim Executive Director or Watoto Australia & New Zealand
In a survey conducted amongst vulnerable women in Uganda by Living Hope in 2015,
- 17% of the women reported receiving no formal education,
- 46% of those who had gone to school never finished primary school,
- 43% of those women were unemployed,
- 61% of those women had no income generating skills, and
- 83% of those women earned less than a dollar a day.
These statistics are staggering and would be unacceptable in our countries. Research has shown that when more women work, economies grow. It also suggests that increasing the share of household income controlled by women changes spending in ways that provide more benefit to children.
We believe we can change this narrative.
In December, 450 women will graduate from Watoto’s Living Hope Project, a program that teaches some of Uganda’s most vulnerable women adult and financial literacy, a craft or marketable skill and business skills so they can create a sustainable life of dignity for themselves and their families. Since its launch in 2008, Living Hope has helped empower over 3000 vulnerable women from inner city slums to rural huts in Uganda.
In March, I sat with Rose in her small one room shack in one of the largest slums in Kampala. She shares the space with her 10-year-old son and 18-month old daughter. Rose shared that she has basic tailoring skills and joined Living Hope because she was seeking healing from a failed relationship with the father of her youngest as well as needing a hand up in skills and economically to keep her family from the cycles of poverty.
She has a small sewing machine that she shares with a neighbour and patches the clothes of people in her slum as they cannot afford to purchase new clothes when they have rips and tears. For her work, she earns about 3000 Ugandan Shilling a day, which equates to c. US$0.85 or AU$1.05 a day. From that, she puts a third toward her son’s school fees, a third toward food for the family and does her best to save the last third for other needs.
I am writing this from a café sipping a $4.00 coffee, which is what Rose may earn in a week.
Does that mean we should feel guilty and give up cappuccinos, or avocado on toast for brunch or that after work beverage of choice?
Not necessarily; however, it is a bold call to action.
Imagine what would happen if we did something as simple as give $4.00 to empowering women like Rose every time we had a coffee, or if we donated a day’s wage for the same purpose, or if we shared this story and rallied our networks around Graduate to Greatness.
From September 4th to 30th, Watoto is raising $30,470 to stand with Rose and women like her to say that we believe in them and the power of empowering them to change the narrative of poverty in their homes, communities and nation. Partner with Rose and women like her by giving them a graduation gift today that can help them start their own business tomorrow.
A sewing machine enables a woman to start generating an income by starting a textile or tailoring business. A bread-making oven enables a woman to open her own bakery and sell bread and other baking goods. Your gift is not a product on a shelf but a tool that will empower these women to change the narrative of their lives.
Donate today at https://chuffed.org/project/graduate-to-greatness
And empower more women like Rose to graduate to greatness and change their lives.