Challenging Gender Norms

November 19, 2015

A young female entrepreneur in Uganda navigates a male-dominated industry in pursuit of her dreams.

Twenty-three-year-old Amony Irene has experienced a life of challenges. At age 7, she was abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army and forced to become a child soldier. When she returned to her home in northern Uganda, Amony enrolled in vocational training to become a metal worker. But like many women in Uganda trying to break into industries traditionally dominated by men – from taxi drivers to construction workers – Amony faced persistent discrimination and couldn’t find a steady job in her chosen field.

My business has restored my hope and joy.

Amony Irene, STRYDE participant

Last July, Amony decided to augment her vocational training with business skills, and joined TechnoServe and The MasterCard Foundation’s STRYDE program, which helps rural young men and women in East Africa transition to economic independence. Amony attended training sessions on entrepreneurship, business planning, personal effectiveness and finance. The program gave her the skills and confidence to pursue her dream from a different angle: starting her own metalworking business.

After the three-month training, Amony opened Ibinonga Metal Work and Fabrication. She began saving money, allowing her to buy a grinding machine instead of contuinuing to rent one. “Working for other people never restored my hope and joy,” Amony said. “But my business has restored my hope and joy.”

Amony's economic empowerment has translated into more egalitarian household decision-making. She has trained her husband, who used to be a car mechanic, in metal work, and they now run Ibinonga together. The couple is using income from the business to better provide for their 5-year-old daughter and help support some of their relatives.

Today on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, we salute talented, hardworking women like Amony, who are overcoming obstacles to build businesses that generate income and jobs in their communities. With initiatives like STRYDE that help both women and men gain access to the skills and resources they need to succeed, we can create a more level playing field for the next generation of business leaders in search of hope and joy. 

 

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