Skills Training for disabled Young Women gives them new Hope to Secure their Livelihood

disabled women

Hidig Disabled Women’s Organisation (HIDWO), a group of 255 disabled women, including many young women, at the skills training organised by UN-Habitat. Credit: UN Photo

Meet the Hidig Disabled Women’s Organisation (HIDWO), a group of 255 disabled women, including many young women, brought together by one common need: to support themselves and their families. Often marginalized, the HIDOW group has had to face challenging obstacles in order to ensure that their basic needs are met.   

Seeking to enhance the capacity of these young women and their ability to support themselves in earning their own livelihoods, the Sustainable Employment Creation and Improved Livelihoods (SECIL) project for Vulnerable Communities in Mogadishu, implemented by UNHABITAT between 2012-2015, provided the group with skills training and further capacity building in charcoal briquette production. Charcoal briquettes is a combination of recycled paper, charcoal, dust and water compressed into a uniform solid unit and used like charcoal or firewood, ‘briquette’ is an environmentally sustainable source of fuel-efficient energy as well as a new innovative concept to Mogadishu.   

Following 20 years of civil war, much of Somalia’s economic infrastructure has been either destroyed or severely damaged. In addition to such physical destruction, the urban centres have experienced rapid informal urbanization and large population displacement, which has placed urban infrastructure and capacities under considerable pressure.

Many city dwellers suffer from the absence of adequate urban services as well as public spaces for mobility, commercial exchange, education and recreation. This has had direct adverse effects on quality of life as well as economic and social well-being; not only negatively impacting individuals but also more broadly affecting social cohesion and cooperation that is essential to peace-building and development.

Such negative effects are further accentuated by a general lack of employment and livelihood prospects. With youth under the age of thirty constituting nearly 70% of the population, this has had a considerable impact on their ability to secure economic opportunities and access livelihoods in the city and HIDOW is just one such group facing these myriad of challenges.

A core component of the SECIL program focused on addressing these needs in part by developing the skills of vulnerable groups that can directly lead to their employment. The skills development provided was further augmented by capacity building trainings that were designed to introduce the learners to the basic ideas, actions and skills needed to successfully launch, lead and grow a micro or small business.

Shamsa Qanyare Barre, of the HIDOW group described the benefit of skills training, and capacity building support, in charcoal production as being their primary “…jobs and source of income so we can manage our lives, houses, and children’s needs.” Ultimately, skills development in a simple activity such as charcoal briquette production has made a visible and profound impact on the lives of the urban poor, particularly vulnerable young women and youth, who now enjoy a greater level of economic security as learning skills that strengthen their capacity to earn a livelihood that supports their families firmly places their future on the horizon.