Dr. McDonald Homer, USAID Namibia Representative Launch of DREAMS Labor Market Assessment Report

Speeches Shim

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Good morning.

It is my pleasure to be here with you today to participate in the launch of the Labour Market Assessment Report commissioned by the DREAMS Program. Protecting adolescent girls and young women from HIV is at the heart of the U.S. government’s DREAMS program, which supports young women to be Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe. 

The program is implemented in 9 districts by USAID, funded through PEPFAR, and in partnership with the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service and other ministries. 

DREAMS offers comprehensive HIV prevention services including sexual reproductive health, pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, condoms, mentorship, psychosocial and educational support, as well as economic strengthening services to adolescent girls and young women. It is the economic strengthening component of the DREAMS program that brings us together today.

According to the 2018 Labor Force Survey, Namibia’s unemployment rate stood at 33.4% with a youth unemployment rate of 46.1% of which males accounted for 43.7 and females for a staggering 48.5% -- so it is fair to say that every second young woman was unemployed in 2018. 

Several factors contribute to the difficulty faced by young people entering the work force such as insufficient education, lack of skills alignment to the labor market, financial illiteracy, a lack of entrepreneurship culture, and gender inequalities.  

Economic disparity related to gender inequality is an ongoing and complex driver of HIV. Implementing robust and evidence-based economic strengthening interventions is a priority for DREAMS in order to strengthen young women’s self-efficacy and decision-making power in relationships and to decrease their reliance on transactional sex. 

Combining economic and social empowerment interventions contributes to stronger decision making and reduced risk of violence. 

Young women in the DREAMS program receive financial literacy education, foundational skills training to support the development of their professional skills, and job readiness including communications and computer skills. 

With this foundation, the young women can enter a vocational training course which is coupled with advanced employment or entrepreneurship. Along with technical skills, this teaches young women how to advocate for their rights in the workplace, including education on sexual harassment, all of which helps them to prepare for the professional world. 

In the final and, arguably, most important step of the DREAMS economic strengthening program, young women are linked to mentored internships and wage employment, or they receive a business starter kit and support to successfully roll out their own business. 

For instance, Lydia Shilongo who was given a chips fryer together with cooking utensils. And today, the 22-year-old woman is running a thriving kiosk at Tsumeb where people come to for breakfast or lunch.

This DREAMS livelihoods pathway, which I have just described, is informed by a labor market assessment process.

The assessment we are launching today identifies seven economic growth sectors in the DREAMS districts including wholesale and retail trade, artisanal sectors, information technology, and hospitality. The report further points out specific occupations within each sector as potential employment and self-employment avenues and will serve as a launch pad for linking young women to viable economic growth opportunities in their communities. 

Many stakeholders present here today have a vested interest in enhancing the skills profile, job attainment potential, and workforce opportunities for Namibian youth. The launch of this report contributes positively to meeting these economic and development needs, not only for DREAMS participants, but for the entire country. 

Since the full economic strengthening intervention of the program began in 2021, the DREAMS program, through Project Hope Namibia, has supported over 560 young Namibian women to complete vocational training, linked 245 of them to internships and wage employment, and provided 148 with tailored entrepreneurial start up kits. 

To achieve even more for our young women, we look forward to partnering with everyone present here today, but also others, to develop an enabling environment to strengthen youth livelihood opportunities in the country.

Allow me to thank the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service for endorsing the report and congratulations to the DREAMS team on a job well done.  My congratulations as well to the young women in the program who have completed intensive training and begun their new jobs and businesses. 

May we continue to work hand in hand for a better future as we strive towards a Namibia without HIV but with better and more equal economic opportunities for our youth, especially adolescent girls and young women.

Thank you.

 

Windhoek, Namibia
Issuing Country 

Last updated: June 21, 2022

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