With a growing population of 41.5 million people, nearly 60% of Uganda’s population are adolescents aged below twenty. This young generation faces multiple challenges including health and economic ones associated with early pregnancy, unemployment, and other factors. A large number of them are unable to generate enough income to support themselves. BRAC in Uganda has established the empowerment and livelihood for adolescents (ELA) programme to address this problem.
Our ELA programme is the largest youth empowerment platform in Uganda. We target adolescent girls between the ages of 13 and 21, especially those who are out of school. The primary goal of the programme is to assist the girls to achieve greater economic and social empowerment and become agents of change in their families and communities. We have recently started to work with boys, particularly through vocational training, to prepare them to secure, as well as create, jobs.
We provide safe spaces, called ‘adolescents clubs’, where they are able to exercise their freedom to express themselves, interact with peers and mentors, and learn about critical social issues including sexual and reproductive health, early marriage, gender-based violence and drug abuse. The clubs serve as centres for various training, with curriculums based on extensive labour market survey and local demands. Examples of trainings include rearing livestock, tailoring and embroidery, salon activities and hotel management.
The girls are educated on financial literacy, which provide them with a better understanding of both personal finances and the financial aspects of small businesses. Savings and credit facilities are provided to orient them towards financial empowerment from an early age. We hold regular meetings with parents, local leaders and the community at large to raise awareness and build support for adolescent girls.