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[read] Taking care of business: Empowering women and girls in Uganda to pursue their dream careers

Updated: Jan 17

KAMPALA, Uganda – “In my village, people said women can't do the same jobs as men, but I want to prove it’s possible,” said 22-year-old Mary Lillian Amongin.

Ms. Amongin is an engineer involved with UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, through its partner the Smart Girl Foundation. For over a year now, Ms. Amongin has been helping to produce ‘smart bags’ – waterproof backpacks filled with useful items such as a sewing kit to make reusable sanitary pads, a solar-powered torch and information booklets on menstrual hygiene.

Ms. Amongin told UNFPA, “It has given me hope. I’m glad to support other girls like me to have dignity in menstruation and to be able to learn at night.”

She also put her engineering skills to innovative use by adding a solar panel to the front of the bags: The panel can be used to charge a torch and help girls to study at night if the electricity goes out. For those in displacement camps or other informal settings, the torches can also make them feel safer when using washroom facilities that are often unlit and unsafe.

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