The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Ghana, in light of the celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day, has donated sewing machines to some beneficiaries under the ‘Fashion Expressions: The Stories She Wears’ project.
The items were handed over to the young girls in a short ceremony at the Ussher Hospital on Thursday, March 9, 2023.
The machines are meant to aid the young girls in the field of fashion and enhance their skills in the industry.
Speaking to the media after the ceremony, Gender Equality, Inclusivity, and Fashion Consultant with UNFPA Ghana, Sandra Akweley Martey, stated that the project was established to mentor and train young girls in fashion and “establish local brands to ensure long-term employment opportunities and for them also to build their capacities as entrepreneurs.”
“The whole objective of this project is to ensure that some of the most vulnerable girls become socio-economically empowered. We created a six-month training programme. It’s in two sides; we selected 15 girls who were with International Needs Ghana, at their vocational center in Adidome, then we also scouted for Ussher Hospital Sewing Center for the other 15 girls who are now 13. They have gone through a six months training program, and today, we have seen the fruits of this training. Now the next objective is a six-month industrial attachment, where we get to establish local brands to ensure long-term employment opportunities and for them also to build their capacities as entrepreneurs,” she said.
Further speaking, Programme Specialist, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Gender Team Lead at the United Nations Population Fund Ghana, Dr. Doris Aglobitse, expressed her astonishment at the progress of the beneficiaries over the past few months.
“I’m overwhelmed by the assertiveness of the girls that I’m seeing today as compared to the girls that I saw six months ago. It’s just interesting and sincerely; UNFPA and Ussher Polyclinic’s partnership dates back four or five years ago. Our main domain is to ensure that we have zero preventable maternal health [issues], zero unmet needs for family planning and then zero GBV [gender-based violence] and harmful practices wherever we have UNFPA presence in the country. So definitely, with this aim, and with our mission of delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled, you have to work with health agencies. So we work with Ghana Health Service, we work with the Ministry of Health, we work with the Ministry of Gender, children and social protection, and of course, NGOs; that’s how come we are associated with Ussher Polyclinic.”
Fashion Expert with the Ussher Hospital Supplementary Support, Mrs. Margaret Mary Owusu Koranteng, added that the “young entrepreneurs” have created brand names and are working on business plans which will be due at the end of their training.
“Our young entrepreneurs, as I call them, have managed to create a brand name together with your own logos. They are currently working on their business plans, which are due for submission at the end of the six months of training. There was a lot of emotional stress, tears, joy, and laughter throughout the six months journey,” she said.
One of the beneficiaries of the project who also spoke to the media expressed her gratitude to UNFPA Ghana for giving her the platform to learn to be a fashion designer.
She also expressed her excitement ahead of the commencement of her industrial attachment.
“I have learnt a lot in these six months, from how to treat my customers and how to sew for others to feel good. Previously I was just a seamstress, but now I am a fashion designer. It wasn’t easy learning how to sew different outfits, but we really tried our best. [On my industrial attachment] I really want to learn a lot from the person. I think it would be a good opportunity for me to learn more from [the person] because she’s into bridals.” she said.
UNFPA Ghana’s partnership with the PRADA Group
UNFPA Ghana and The Prada Group entered into a partnership in 2021 to roll out the Fashion Expressions: The Stories She Wears” project which combines the leadership of the Prada Group in the fashion industry with the expertise of UNFPA in gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Through this project and under the coordination of the Strategic Partnerships Branch, UNFPA created a six-month training programme and educational module for young women in vulnerable communities to promote the social impact of fashion and foster social and economic empowerment.
The educational module seeks to introduce them to fashion concepts as a powerful tool to empower them socially and economically. The vision for this partnership is to contribute toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and, more specifically to transform the lives of women and girls from marginalized communities by promoting their empowerment and subsequently reducing their vulnerability to SGBV, harmful practices, and other gendered inequalities.
The training module is currently being piloted in Ghana and Kenya to include fashion as a platform of engagement in UNFPA’s work globally. Both countries target 45 young women and girls from marginalized communities: Thirty (30) in Ghana and Fifteen (15) in Kenya. In Ghana, the Country Office is implementing the initiative in partnership with International Needs, a faith-based NGO focused on women, children, and community development.
Story by: Kelly Adjetey Boye | univers.ug.edu.gh