This month WITU was selected among 10 finalists for the project inspire award and I was excited to be flying off to Singapore to Pitch. On this particular day, I arrive at the airport and see a long line of young girls mainly between 18 – 25 years, most of them with just a carry on bag, passport in hand and chatting away looking timid and unsure of their next move. I remembered my first time flying, the feeling you get thinking everyone knows its your first time to fly, feeling nervous and scared but also excited to be flying!
I saw hope and anticipation for a better future in the eyes of each girl I looked at. My heart was sad. Sad because I have heard so many bad stories of what horrible stuff is done to girls in these Arab countries. I have shared a few links below to help you understand what I mean. I am not an expert on this and by no means are my suggestions the solution, but just a starting point.
The high unemployment rate in Uganda is pushing many girls to leave the country, hoping this opportunity will present a better future for them and their families. Majority of these girls are school dropouts and at the time of leaving the country, are abandoning their little ones as young as six months. I cannot judge them because I have not been in their shoes, so I do not know what they have been through.
Also, not everyone that goes to Arab countries gets abused or has a hard life out there, its just that the number of tortured and abused victims is rising!!!!!!
So I ask myself, instead of just posting it on social media and calling the government to act, what can we as somewhat informed and educated Ugandans do to support our sisters that make the hard choice to go to these countries for work.
I think, and this is by far not the best answer or solution to this challenge but I am hoping we can all contribute to a solution that can help these young women. So I suggest that;
- We host classes for these girls before they go, Identify those that are selected by these companies, equip them with information on how to ensure that they are safe and that their rights are respected. I am thinking, start with the fact that its’ their right to stay in possession of their passport and sign contracts that are fair.
- Get lawyers on board to support these girls as they sign the contracts with these companies to ensure that they are fair and legal
- Hold these companies that send the girls accountable, create policies that they follow up on the girls they send abroad and provide parents with a report.
- Government should put in place policies that support the women going abroad, such that its in their favor and respond effectively and efficiently to the cries of these women who are already in these countries
- Lastly and importantly, increase economic opportunity for young women in Uganda.
- What do you think, who can we support our girls?
I would love to hear some feedback !