Vocational training for young women in Senegal

In December 2019, 1% Fund members voted to support a project proposal to provide young women in a poor rural part of eastern Senegal with training in sewing and tailoring. Women from the village of Wassadou, near Tambacounda, some 400 kilometres southeast of Dakar, were to be provided with the vocational training. The project was proposed by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Solidarité Wassadou Pont-Trambouze, which was founded in France in 2004.

Solidarité Wassadou Pont-Trambouze commenced its activities from 2004 by first revitalizing the primary school and its canteen in Wassadou in order to support local children in primary level education. This support was later extended to their secondary level schooling. The NGO subsequently also supported tertiary level education at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar for some children from Wassadou who had successfully completed their secondary level education.

The NGO also provided funding to develop vocational training in trades serving the local community. The girls increasingly do continue from primary school to secondary school (nearly half did in 2019, compared with none in 2004), but many return to their villages without finishing secondary school. The NGO concentrated its efforts on supporting skills training to enable young women who had not completed secondary schooling to learn skills for the labour market. This training was provided by the Vocational Training School in Tambacounda.

The Tambacounda Vocational Training School runs various courses, including a three year training course in sewing and tailoring skills for around 70 young women each year. The course is supported by the NGO under its project ‘Hope for Young Women’. The School awards a State certified diploma to the young women who successfully complete the sewing and tailoring course, giving them the opportunity to access the local labour market and earn an income. This gives them the prospect of starting their own small businesses making clothes.

The 1% Fund provided Solidarité Wassadou Pont-Trambouze with US$5000, which was used to purchase automatic electric sewing machines, overlock and cover stitching machines, an embroidery machine, and other electrical equipment and accessories. The Covid-19 pandemic delayed the procurement, shipment and installation of the new equipment until February 2021, however, and the start of classes in the vocational course was postponed from September 2020 until early 2021.

The new machines and the modernized workshop increased the capacity of the Tambacounda Vocational Training School to provide up-to-date sewing and tailoring training. This has made the School a more attractive venue for training, and the modernized workshop is expected to attract trainees from around the region. Most of the trainees wish to follow a shorter educational path in achieving their goals of starting their own small businesses and gaining independence. Two girls from Wassadou were awarded diplomas in sewing and tailoring in March 2021.

The French NGO Solidarité Wassadou Pont-Trambouze continues to support young people from the village of Wassadou beyond vocational training in taking initiatives to achieve goals in their trades. The NGO intends to help the young women in starting small businesses after concluding their training in sewing and tailoring. It intends to provide some of them with sewing machines and other equipment and accessories, for example.

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