Using Narratives to Empower Women's Professional and Entrepreneurial Skill

OVERVIEW

Women in Ethiopian society today are often bound by traditional social standards that fail to acknowledge their full potential and view them as equal to men. These societal norms center around a male-dominated community and recognize women only as caretakers, unable to do more than provide for their families at home.

 

Opportunities are growing slowly, and gender stereotypes are beginning to change because a larger number of women are remaining in primary and secondary education, moving onto university and eventually the workforce. As this movement progresses, programs that allow women to build professional skills will be crucial in furthering their success. Our project aims to use narratives and storytelling to enhance these skills, empowering the women of Adigrat to enter the workforce and discover their full potential.

Significance

Recognizing the importance of women in society and providing them with positions in the workforce has been proven to promote development in countries all over the world. In a country that is in the early stages of this recognition and action towards involving women in professional industries, implementing programs designed to accelerate this change is needed. 

Using storytelling and writing narratives as a medium to teach meaningful life skills has been a successful and innovative approach in past initiatives. Our program intends to use this platform to educate young Ethiopian women looking to enter the workforce, such as entrepreneurial and business skills.

Methodology

Our project will have several  features to expand the personal and professional skill set of women: 

  • Creating, writing, and editing their own narratives (building creativity, writing, and communication skills)

  • Sharing these personal narratives to the group (building public speaking, confidence, and communication skills)

  • Creation of a website to publish these narratives to the public (building confidence, leadership, entrepreneurial and professional skills)

  • Promoting past program participants to mentor future groups (building leadership, professional, entrepreneurial and confidence skills)

 

These activities will be delivered through an 8-week workshop for first year university students. Each week a prompt will be assigned to highlight  an important skill (e.g., good decision making). At the end of the week, the women will share their stories that incorporate this skill to the group. After the 8 weeks has concluded, each member will choose a story that will be published on a website that the group has co-created throughout the entirety of the workshop. This website will showcase the skills gained by the young women who participated.

 

Sustainability of the program after the first successful 8 week completion will include appointing mentors who have formerly performed the workshop to a high degree of quality, and exhibit the skills that were taught. After each 8 week period, monitoring and evaluation will be used and the program will be re-assessed, altered, and improved where necessary. 

Anticipated Outcomes

We expect some short-term and long-term personal and professional outcomes: 

Short term:

- Development of personal skills: 

  • Public speaking

  • Communication

  • Writing

  • Self confidence (affect your professional capacity)

- Development of professional skills 

  • English

  • Business etiquette

  • Technical writing and professional skills

Long term:

  • Increase number of women who attend the university to enter the business and entrepreneurship

  • Increase the number of women who start businesses and become entrepreneurs

  • Ensure program sustainability by using  mentors who are past program participants and creating a program website that will eventually sell advertising spots and short stories written by the participants

"It's a marathon, not a sprint"

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