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FEATURE STORY

Haiti: Jobs for adolescent girls are stepping stones to a new future

June 24, 2013

Highlights
  • 421 young women graduated in masonry, electricity, and other non-traditional jobs.
  • The innovative training promotes soft skills (personal habits, effective interactions, etc.).
  • NGOs, training providers and employers are partnering to achieve these goals.

"I feel proud to be a graduate in a job I love," says Daniela. After completing a six-month heavy equipment training program, she is one of the 421 young girls trained in non-traditional jobs to graduate in front of a thousand people, on 11 June at the Historic “ Parc de la Canne a sucre”.

In colorful gowns, surrounded by their friends, families and teachers, the young girls are radiant and proud, confident in the promise of a new beginning.

Serious, they listen carefully to the recommendations and encouragement from Mr. Alexandre Abrantes, Special Envoy of the World Bank, Ms. Rose-Anne Auguste, Minister Delegate in Charge of Human Rights and the Fight against Extreme Poverty representative from the Secretariat for Professional Training (Institut National pour la Formation Professionnelle – INFP) .

An innovative training

This group of girls is the first cohort to graduate from the Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI), a World Bank program. The project will impact 1,000 young women. So far, only 10% of those who enrolled have dropped-out.

In partnership with community-based NGOs, training centers (public and private) and employers, the Haiti AGI provides technical training and soft skills development to vulnerable Haitian young women (17-21 years old) who are largely under-represented in formal labor markets. 

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I feel proud to be a graduate in a job I love. Close Quotes

Daniela
AGI initiative participant

The objective is to facilitate a school-to-work transition and improve their employment and earnings potential. Girls are trained in masonry, electricity, heavy machinery, carpentry and hotels.

By also focusing on behavior change, training allows girls to increase their self-confidence and be more aware of inter-personal skills.

“Before it was give me, give me. Now they say ‘help me look, how I can do better?’”— says a representative of one the partner NGOs, to illustrate the change in aspirations and empowerment brought about by the project. These will be critical to their transition to the labor market.

Women, engine of development

The education of women is essential to development of a country. Between 2000 and 2010, throughout Latin America, working women have played a key role in reducing inequality in the region, being responsible for 28 percent of such reduction.

Minister Auguste emphasized the crucial role played by women in Haitian society throughout history, regretting that they remain largely under-represented in the labor market.

She highlighted how each of the graduates has a mission to be role models to other young women in their communities, and to contribute to Haiti’s development, as well as its economic, social, environmental and cultural success.

Abrantes expressed his satisfaction to see the young women graduate in less than a year: " Through this project, you are also breaking down gender stereotypes and showing the world that women can do anything that men can do. You are brave women who are turning a lot of heads and converting many skeptics!"

Ensuring the relevance of the skills with existing and emerging needs of employers in Haiti has been a key focus of the project. The idea is also to apply the lessons learned from this project to the larger broader job creation agenda of the Gender and the Poverty Reduction Ministries.

The team will work with the National Institute for Vocational Training on the role of the development of life skills to increase the effectiveness of technical training as well as developing mechanisms to increase the link between demand (employers) and labor supply (trainees and providers of technical training).