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Prof. Orach on why educating girls and women should be a priority

The women folk, the girl child, the female, are more vulnerable in terms of their survival livelihood compared to men. And, therefore, education to the girl child is critical. This is because it brings in enlightenment and knowledge. Knowledge about being aware of themselves, their bodies, for instance.

That to me is the beginning. If they have knowledge about sexuality, they have knowledge about menstruation, they have knowledge when they can be pregnant. This is an important resilience that can enable them to have a better life.

To the girl child education should even be considered more paramount. For instance, apart from making them more resilient, education gives them empowerment. Empowerment in the sense of giving them avenues for employer-ability and for creativity; because then even if they are not employed, you can be able to innovate. You can be able to look for ways in which you can do things differently.

Acio Sharon Enon at her retail shop at Ireda Shamba Village in Lira District. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Kampala International University and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was employed as a teacher. But she became ‘unemployed’ when the lockdowns and closure of schools were instituted. She has since utilized her learning from our CPAR Uganda project: “Mentoring young adults into innovators against poverty,” she says, and innovated to establish her retail shop.

And so to me, there is no doubt that to the girl child education is so important. For instance now, in Makerere Medical School and in many universities in the world, we are beginning to see more girls educated and becoming doctors, more than the boys. And this is also because girls can be very focused and as a result, they can also do a better job.

“Those children who have gone to school are not useless. This is because they come back with good views. They come back with good views which help the community. They will work with the LC I councils; they are in churches; they help us in farming. You will find they have papers which can help them to get jobs any day. This is because your education paper (academic qualifications) does not rot.” These are the lyrics that were rapped in Ateso by Aguti Stella Rose (pictured) as part of a song that young innovators under the mentorship of Ms. Norah Owaraga, our Managing Director, performed on Saturday, 17th April 2021, during the official launch of our project: “Challenging Categories: Educated Unemployed Youth as Institutional Innovators in Rural Uganda;” a project which CPAR Uganda is implementing in partnership with Lira University and the University of East Anglia UK; with funding from the British Academy.

Again, that is another way we see the value of education. When they understand it from the beginning, they are so focused, more sometimes than the boy child who can be distracted. So, for me, education and the girl child, enables them to be able to live a life on their own in a better way when they are educated than if they are not educated; whether they are employed or not.

We have seen that in many settings, for instance, several projects in communities, if you give women, for example, if you give them two hundred thousand shillings, they are able to apply these funds better than if you give it to men. For me, this is still testament that education is critical and very important and can make the female folk, the girl child a better agent.

Professor Dr. Christopher Garimoi Orach is the Board Chair of CPAR Uganda. He expressed his views, herein contained, during an interview with Mr. Philip Luswata, shortly after the first Team Workshop for our project in partnership with Lira University and the University of East Anglia, UK: “Challenging Categories: Educated Unemployed Youth as Institutional Innovators in Rural Uganda,” that was held on Friday, 16th April 2021 at the CPAR Uganda Lira Learning Centre. Prof. Orach is a professor of public health at Makerere University School of Public Health, where he has  been working for many years – including being the Deputy Dean; Head of Department of the Department of Community Outreach and Behavioural Sciences; actively involved in several research activities; and he teaches.

Photos Credit: All photos featured in this post were taken by Emmanuel Owaraga.

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