By Omileha Odey
In a significant move towards empowering indigent Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW), the Society for Family Health (SFH), in collaboration with the training institution; National Directorate of Employment (NDE), organised an inception meeting on Wednesday, September 6th, 2023. The event took place at the Evermore Event Centre in Abia State, marking the commencement of a transformative skills acquisition training programme set to benefit 500 indigent AGYW under the GF NAHI grant.
The primary objective of this meeting is to prepare the participating girls for the upcoming skills acquisition training and provide them with insights into the exciting opportunities that lie ahead. Adolescent girls and young women aged 10 to 24 often face the risk of gender-based violence and exploitation. SFH, through this initiative, aims to provide them with a platform to earn a sustainable income, make informed and healthy life decisions, and receive empowerment to start up their Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The skills acquisition training will encompass four key areas: Hairdressing, Fashion Designing, Catering, and Fish Farming based on the assessment conducted, the National Directorate of Employment will spearhead the training sessions in communities located close to each participating indigent girl, emphasising the critical importance of their presence, commitment, and consistent attendance throughout the programme.
Paul Chimeremeze Nwaogu, representing the Managing Director, Society for Family Health (SFH) and the GFNAHI project Director, addressed the girls, dispelling any doubts about the programme’s authenticity. He reassured them that the training was a genuine opportunity for them to enhance their lives and prospects.
Mr Nwaogu emphasised that the selection of indigent girls for this programme was based on a thorough assessment, not limited to HIV and AIDS-affected communities that GFNAHI is focused on. He encouraged the girls to embrace this opportunity, highlighting the substantial investments made to ensure the programme’s success.
Tessy Nwachukwu, representing the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), delivered the keynote address, expressing excitement about the programme that had been months in the making. She emphasised the importance of empowering young individuals with skills, acknowledging that not all careers require a traditional white-collar job. She encouraged the girls to make their own skill choices and strive for excellence in their chosen fields, emphasising that every skill is valuable.
Mrs Nwachukwu assured the participants that their complaints would be addressed and that success stories from previous trainees would be shared to inspire the current batch.
FHI360 Timothy Agbidye representing Christiana Laniyan, the Programme Director of the Global Fund National Alignment for HIV Impact (GFNAHI) project, expressed sincere appreciation for the dedicated efforts of the event organisers. He commended their meticulous planning and execution, which resulted in a remarkable turnout and the resounding success of the inception meeting.
During his speech, Mr Agbidye extended his best wishes and words of encouragement to the young girls who will soon embark on their training journey. He emphasised the importance of their dedication and hard work during this period, highlighting that their training represents a significant opportunity for personal growth and development.
He also underscored GFNAHI’s commitment to supporting initiatives that empower adolescents and contribute to their overall well-being. Mr. Agbidye’s words of praise and encouragement resonated with the audience, leaving an atmosphere of optimism and enthusiasm as the training programme for the girls officially began.
Dr Uloaku Ukaegbu, the project manager Abia SACA, highlighted women and girls’ critical role in the Nigerian population. She stressed that when women are empowered through skills, entire families and communities benefit, setting a path towards progress.
Michael Oze, the NEPWHAN State Coordinator, expressed gratitude for being part of the initiative. He offered advice to the young women and urged them to take full advantage of the training to secure brighter futures for themselves.
The SASCAP representative Ezeigbo Ugochukwu, emphasised that dedication and diligence in the training would lead to success and strong self-efficacy.
Okolie Charles, The State Team Lead of Caritas expressed the importance of empowering women to make decisions based on skills and knowledge rather than poverty. He pledged to support the trained girls by incorporating them as suppliers of products and services through their vendors.
Jane Julius, one of the programme’s guests, expressed her joy, emphasizing that after this training, the girls would be less vulnerable to exploitation driven by financial hardship. She believed that by equipping AGYW with skills, they could achieve personal and professional growth.
Other guests present at the event included representatives of FHI360, SACA, NDE, NEPWHAN, LACA, Caritas, UBA and SFH, the girls and the trainers. The training is scheduled to last for three months, from September to November 2023, to empower these young women and transform their lives for the better.