In a significant stride towards empowering women and girls in Uganda, MTN Uganda’s Corporate Social Responsibility arm, MTN Foundation celebrated the graduation of 70 girls in Computer Applications User Occupation and STEM Courses under the esteemed MTN Girls in Tech program.
The MTN Girls in Tech program is a vital initiative within MTN Foundation’s broader commitment, which seeks to train 400 youths annually in fields traditionally dominated by men.
This graduation ceremony which took place at the state-of-the-art MTN Girls with Tools Skilling Centre in Kitetika, Wakiso District, occurring as MTN Uganda commemorates its 25th anniversary of community transformation, is a commendable step in breaking gender barriers and promoting inclusivity in technology-related disciplines.
MTN Foundation’s enduring partnership with the Smart Girls Foundation, initiated during the Y’ello Care program in June 2019, has yielded remarkable progress. The Foundation’s unwavering support facilitated the establishment of a cutting-edge facility valued at UGX300 million, dedicated to training youths, particularly girls, annually.
The fully equipped facility features a modern computer laboratory, a vehicle servicing station, and a washing bay, showcasing MTN’s commitment to providing practical skills training for women and girls. The comprehensive training covers a range of skills, including servicing and washing bays, computer applications, electricity installation, welding, carpentry, tailoring, and house painting.
Enid Edroma, General Manager, of Corporate Services at MTN Uganda while congratulating the graduates for their dedication and successful completion of the training said, “The hands-on experience you’ve gained is invaluable in understanding the dynamics of building businesses and creating employment opportunities.” Further adding that “These skills empower you to compete equally with your male counterparts for opportunities that were historically preserved for men.”
This graduation is especially significant in light of studies indicating the exclusion of many women and girls from the benefits of a connected community.
The GSMA’s 2021 Mobile gender gap report reveals that women and girls are 37% less likely to use the mobile internet than men in Sub-Saharan Africa, with Uganda unfortunately leading in this gender gap.
Factors contributing to this gender gap include the high cost of mobile data, lack of suitable devices, online violence, and inadequate digital skills. This exclusion not only hinders progress on gender equality but also denies women opportunities to contribute to Uganda’s economic growth.
Smart Girls Foundation Founder and CEO, Jamila Mayanja, applauded MTN Uganda for the transformative support, stating, “Our partnership with MTN has helped us create a new breed of girls who are respected in our communities.”
Graduates expressed their newfound skills in computer applications, highlighting the impact of the training.
Rita Nabacwa remarks “I thought computers were only for people in offices.” “I did not know that a girl at home could use a computer to design websites, cards, and other works.” Concluded by saying, “Thank you, MTN Foundation and Smart Girls Foundation, for training us.”
Sharifah Nambubiru another graduate said, “I thought a computer was a bomb that would explode, but coming here today is a great testimony that I can confidently type anything on a computer.”
Michael Okumu, the deputy director-in-charge of assessment and certification at the Directorate of Industrial Training, commended MTN Uganda and its partners for empowering the girl child — calling upon other stakeholders to replicate the efforts of Smart Girls Foundation and MTN Uganda in empowering youths across the country.
The collaboration between MTN Foundation and Smart Girls Foundation underscores MTN’s broader commitment to empowering women and girls in Uganda. In 2016, MTN Foundation partnered with the Forum for African Women Educationalists Uganda Chapter (FAWEU) to provide full-cover university education scholarships for ten Ugandan girls in STEM courses.
Furthermore, MTN Uganda’s MTN ACE Programme, launched in December 2022 in collaboration with several partners, has seen 185 youths graduate in the first cohort. This program aims to equip youth with practical skills in digital technologies, enabling them to provide innovative ICT solutions to address community challenges.
In alignment with its commitment to education and technology, MTN has supported the establishment of 42 ICT labs in various educational institutions. This includes six labs in technical institutes, such as Amelo Technical Institute in Adjuman District, St. Simon Peter’s Vocational Training Centre in Hoima District, and St. Daniel Comboni Polytechnic in Moroto District.