On the premises of Haiti Tec, a certified vocational training center, a group of young girls wearing protective goggles and masks are sawing wood. Other groups are even busier with plumbing, electricity and masonry classes.
These 500 young girls have been receiving training in various technical areas at a number of centers in Port-au-Prince since October 2012. They participate in the World Bank’s Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI) program which, by end-2013, in cooperation with the Ministry of Women’s rights and Women’s condition, will have provided training to 1,000 young girls between the ages of 17 and 20 in vulnerable situations living in poor neighborhoods.
According to President Martelly, vocational training is of critical importance in a country getting back on its feet. Last November, at a forum on the sector, he stated that he wanted “vocational training to be a pillar of Haiti’s reconstruction.”
In order to take advantage of post-earthquake employment opportunities in the sectors with strong growth potential that are traditionally dominated by men, young girls are being trained in five vocational areas not considered traditional for women—carpentry and woodwork, heavy machinery, masonry, plumbing, and electrical work.
“The strategy is important. Instead of ‘cash for work,’ the individual learns a trade, which is much more important. I think this will contribute to Haiti’s development and growth,” explains the Director of Haiti Tec, Rhony Desrogene.
The young girls receive a monthly stipend of 2,000 gourdes (US$50) to cover the costs associated with training sessions. They are also accompanied in their neighborhood by recognized community organizations, in charge of encouraging and assist them in case of problems that would prevent them from continuing the training.
“This is an opportunity given to many young girls who needed it,” says Daniela, one of the students. “I tried hard to get into this program,” she adds. To be eligible, she spent one additional month in difficult circumstances in the poor neighborhood where she was living, which was one of the neighborhoods targeted by the program.