Sewing Machine Training(Tailoring)
Gender inequality is one of the biggest challenges in rural South Sudan. Many girls are still subject to early arranged marriages,
receive less educational development and ultimately have poorer health outcomes. In many villages pervaded by traditional beliefs, now outlawed practices such as dowry and female infanticide continue to occur. Unmarried and widowed women are especially disadvantaged in these circumstances, often perceived as being a burden on their family, and turning to means such as prostitution to financially support themselves and their families. In response to this, APEBA initiated the Widows’ sewing training program in early 2005. The program aims to equip disadvantaged women and widows with vocational sewing skills and thus enable them to achieve some financial independence and a better quality of life.
Current and graduated students from the program were interviewed in the present study to evaluate the effectiveness of the program in achieving these aims. More than 40 women participated in the sewing program in its first year. All of the participants reported being very satisfied with the program and would readily to refer others to participate. Drawbacks of the program included insufficient teaching room and sewing machines for use by all participants. Additionally, only a few participants owned their own sewing machines and were able to go on and earn an income after graduating from the program.
APEBA is working with partners/donors to help participants acquire their own sewing machines after graduation, to assist women in achieving financial independence with their newly acquired skills. The program has been effective in teaching widows and vulnerable women practical sewing skills, and has inspired many disenfranchised women to seek better vocational opportunities for themselves. To ensure the long-term effectiveness of the program, follow-up of the graduated participants is also essential, either by the local community councils, CBOs or APEBA local volunteers, as ongoing support and encouragement is instrumental in helping graduates make use of their skills.Widow