The economic structure of most societies is one of the factors that has led women and girls to endure all kinds of degrading and dehumanizing forms of abuse. To successfully attain its key objective of reducing cases of FGM in Amudat district by 20%, the National Association of Women Organizations in Uganda (NAWOU) has a strategy that seeks to equip rescued girls with livelihood skills.
A few months ago, the organization supported by Irish Aid supplied Katikit Primary School with five sewing machines. It is expected that the sewing skills will help the beneficiaries escape the cultural trap that was designed to make women and girls live a slave-like existence since they will be able to generate their own income and support their livelihoods as seamstresses.
The machines have appealed to the girls a desire to learn. The Head teacher Mr. Onyait Michael says ‘much of the interest lies among the bigger girls who were rescued from FGM or early marriages and brought to school.’ He adds that given their age the girls usually feel uncomfortable sitting in classrooms with smaller children. Sometimes they opt to enter upper classes even when they do not meet the academic requirements thereby presenting a managerial challenge to the school administration.
By providing the alternative skills based approach to education, the project is helping to keep children from dropping out of school. It will also equip them with the much needed livelihood skills that would enable them live free and independent lives in case they failed to continue with Post Primary education. This is especially vital in preventing the girls from falling back into the socio-cultural trap that requires them to cut off their clitoris in order to be recognized as women and potential wives.
The long term potential change that might come out of NAWOUs three year project in Amudat will be a win for all the women, men, boys and girls who have defied the odds to stay in school and the surgeons who will drop their tools to advocate against FGM.