Young Ugandans escape the streets to make a new start

News Hour:

54,000 girls under 18 are forced into the sex trade in Uganda. However, a girl doesn’t need much to turn her life around.

Hawa, a graduate of a Plan International-supported project, has set up her own business. Through a skills training course implemented by our partner UYDEL, she learned her trade and gained business skills.

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She saved US$290 from working on the street to pay rent for her salon and buy equipment. She now earns between US$9 and US$14 per day and has big dreams of owning a larger salon and training other girls.

Girls and young women make up the majority of the world’s 628 million unemployed young people who have neither an education nor vocational training.

Barriers caused by gender inequality and discrimination are preventing girls from going to school and getting the skills they need to access decent work and break out of poverty.

Not only is this unjust, it is a huge waste of potential.

In developing countries, girls’ jobs are often vulnerable, informal and unprotected. Girls are more likely to be paid lower wages – if they are paid at all – and the first to lose their jobs. At current rates, the World Economic Forum estimates that it will take over a century to close the gender pay gap.

Investing in girls’ economic empowerment is essential to achieving gender equality and helping girls to reach their potential. Enabling them to learn, lead, decide and thrive can transform lives, communities and entire countries.

Each extra year of secondary education boosts a girl’s wages by 10-20%. Research shows that young women put back 90% of their income into their household, but men only give back 30-40%. By directing the money they earn back into the household, girls help their whole families to stay healthy, secure and educated.

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Mridha Shihab Mahmud is a writer, content editor and photojournalist. He works as a staff reporter at News Hour. He is also involved in humanitarian works through a trust called Safety Assistance For Emergencies (SAFE). Mridha also works as film director. His passion is photography. He is the chief respondent person in Mymensingh Film & Photography Society. Besides professional attachment, he loves graphics designing, painting, digital art and social networking.
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