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Trócaire project helps Somali women succeed in business

By Sarah Mac Donald - 29 July, 2020

Kaafiya conducting health education sessions in Somalia. Image: Trócaire.

A project run by Trócaire in Somalia is providing women there with an opportunity to take up roles traditionally reserved for men, including running small businesses.

Gender inequality and illiteracy rates are very high among girls and women in Somalia. As a result, the vast majority have fewer opportunities in the labour market and lower economic empowerment compared to men.

In a situation of conflict and high gender inequality, the Somali Advocates for Health and Nutrition (SAHAN) project, which is administered by Trócaire, has provided jobs and opportunities for Somali women to participate in development issues.

Trócaire has highlighted the story of 27-year-old Kaafiya. Her small business in Luuq district of the Gedo region of Somalia is thriving.

Kaafiya got the capital to start her business by saving some of her earnings from Trócaire’s SAHAN project. She was paid to be a ‘Female Community Influencer’ which involved spreading awareness and information about Trócaire’s health services.

One year ago, Kaafiya never imagined that she would be running a successful business. Now her small shop serves approximately 1,000 people in her village. It is, she says, a dream come true.

Working with her colleague Amina, the two have conducted over 4,000 home visits in the district on behalf of SAHAN.

“We were selected and trained as Female Community Influencers and part of our mandate is to promote healthy behaviours, as well as encourage and link women who have no contact with a health facility,” Kaafiya explained.

“I have committed myself to the initiative that has been so fulfilling, on top of giving me the capital I needed to start a business.”

She says that her biggest motivation in the job was not only the impact it has had on her community, but also the financial incentives which have gone a long way to liberate her financially.

The shop she set up has become a social hub, which she uses as a platform to extend health education to women.

“Any opportunity I get to chat with the customers is an opportunity to educate them on health,” she said.

Kaafiya joined a women’s savings group and channelled part of her earnings into savings, which helped her start her business from small beginnings. She is able to put into practice business skills she developed when growing up as her mother’s assistant at a vegetable stall.

She is among 54 Female Community Influencers in three districts of the Gedo region of Somalia. So far they have conducted over 50,000 home visits, reaching over 30,000 women and referring over 12,000 women and under five children to health facilities.

The SAHAN project is implemented by Trócaire with support from the UK Department of International Development (DFID).

According to Irish bishops’ aid agency, projects like this are an example of how impactful overseas aid projects can be.

Trócaire’s ‘Build Back Better’ campaign is calling on Ireland and the UK to protect overseas aid.

“Now is the time to protect our aid budgets. We can’t let the poorest people in the world suffer the most,” the organisation said.

Trócaire explains that ‘Building Back Better’ means supporting countries with overseas aid so they can build the healthcare systems and infrastructure needed to overcome this crisis. It means investing in an economic recovery that tackles the climate emergency.

It also seeks an economic recovery that is fair and just for all, that doesn’t involve exploitation. It means companies respect human rights when their operations have the potential to impact on vulnerable people.

Learn more here: https://www.trocaire.org/buildbackbetter

Live streaming of Masses and Services from churches in Ireland and the UK can be found here: http://churchservices.tv

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