Heart and Soul: Project Girls for Girls Expands Across African Continent
Project Girls 4 Girls (G4G) has had a busy year across Africa, launching new programs and engaging hundreds of young leaders and mentors across five countries! Updates on our mentorship circles, pilots, and initiatives are below:
Following the pilot at Mary Reparatrix Girls School Bugonga in Entebbe, Uganda, where 65 15–18 year old girls participated in mentoring sessions from July 2017 to April 2018, G4G was officially launched in Uganda on April 29, 2018. From August to September 2018, 50 women professionals from government, private, civil society, and development sectors were identified and trained as mentors.
Since then, G4G has launched 10 mentorship circles with 117 mentees at Mt. St. Mary’s Namagunga Girls School (average age 17–18) with 25 mentors participating. Many mentees have faced confidence and self esteem issues, expressing fears of failure and disappointing their parents or themselves; relationship issues with school administration and with parents. However, they also have high aspirations and dreams for the future. Following mentorship sessions, mentees have since established their own circles called “Heart and Soul” for younger girls in the school. They address issues of self esteem, confidence, identity and other challenges facing the school community. Uganda initiatives are led by Florence N. Nsubuga, Diana Ninsiima Kibuuka, and Harriet Adong.
One mentorship circle was launched at UMEME, the largest distributor of electricity in Uganda, with 15 young women between 25 to 35 years old. The women are managers and administrators working in a male dominated industry and they discuss challenges they face, such as low confidence and self-esteem, ways to boost their careers, and work/life balance. Initiatives at UMEME are coordinated by Florence Nsubuga (COO and Executive Director) and Clare Mukasa (Revenue Cycle Manager).
In the mentorship circles, participants discussed how they could start or plan their journeys toward certain career goals including entrepreneurship and holding political office. Mentees in turn are also seeking to mentor younger students in vocational colleges and rural communities.Initiatives in Niger are Coordinated by Aliane Mugwaneza and Meredith Segal (ADU).
You can listen to a local radio interview conducted with co-founder Allen Asiimwe about the launch here.
In Nairobi, Kenya, we partnered with the Salaama Gachie Community School to launch five mentorship circles for 45 girls, aged 13–18, with 14 trained mentors. Most of the mentees, from single parent or child-headed homes, are battling violence, alcoholism, disease, and poverty in their community and looking for a way to fulfil their dreams and aspirations. Initiatives in Kenya are led and coordinated by Annette Rumanyika Mulira.
In Zimbabwe, G4G trained young women as mentors to pilot a new model to work with girls in the community. The pilot will focus on young girls in vocational institutions facing challenges including lack of work options and escaping poverty. Team Leaders in Zimbabwe are Leslie Samantha Mhlanga and Audrey Simbiso Chidawanyika.
G4G held planning discussions and has reached out to over 100 potential mentors in Zambia. A training is planned for January 2019. Initiatives in Zambia are led and coordinated by Namucana C. Musiwa, (CEO Career Prospects Limited); and Belinda Chanda, (International Labor Organization, Pakistan).
Reflections on 2018
The G4G movement is spreading fast across the continent. The demand for mentoring is high and more so is the interest and passion by women to share their experiences and stories with others. G4G provides a timely and tested methodology and curated programme that brings professional women in contact with young girls and women in need of encouragement and support. The primary focus of G4G is on imparting the courage, vision and skills to take action so as to make a difference in our communities. This is best done with mentors listening and sharing stories and personal lessons of how they have taken action and led on change.
In the coming year, G4G will continue working on training mentors in various professions, and will soon launch mentoring circles targeting young female lawyers and women in and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); young girls and women with HIV/AIDS; and young artisanal miners and those working in the extractives industry.
The impact is amazing. Many mentees are finding their passion and their purpose and are moving on to take action where they did not dare before like putting their names forward for positions at work. As one mentee said, “I have found the courage to tell my story and it is liberating.”