In Argentina, women under the age of 29 face an unemployment rate three times higher than those between the ages of 30 and 64. This situation is further exacerbated by the burden of caring for siblings, young children, or relatives with illnesses or disabilities.
From a young age, girls encounter barriers in schools, families, and communities that hinder their full potential. By the age of nine, only 11% of girls consider themselves good at math, compared to 20% of boys. Furthermore, between the ages of six and eight, nine out of ten girls associate engineering with masculine characteristics.
The reinforcement of traditional gender stereotypes relegates women, adolescents, and girls to caregiving tasks, placing their education in the background and impacting their autonomy.
The Power of Life Skills Development
With the aim of promoting life skills development and occupational projects, ONU Mujeres Argentina and the Merck Family Foundation have launched the “Chicas con Futuro” initiative. This project seeks to strengthen the educational and employment inclusion of adolescents and young women in the Ezeiza district. The initiative is implemented in collaboration with the SES Foundation and has the support of the Honorable Deliberative Council and the Municipality of Ezeiza.
“The initiative aims to work for two years to stimulate the strengthening of life skills and occupational projects for at least 300 adolescents and young women, in order to expand their job opportunities,” explains Sabrina Landoni, program specialist at ONU Mujeres Argentina.
Through this initiative, adolescents and young women acquire skills to develop their physical and economic autonomy, as well as decision-making abilities.
María Sol Quibel, General Director of the Merck Group in Argentina, representing the Merck Family Foundation, highlights that “Chicas con Futuro” is an initiative that reflects the organization’s commitment to contribute through projects that have an impact on educational progress and the well-being of the communities where it operates.
“We firmly believe that we can make a valuable and genuine contribution to the women of Ezeiza in order to create an inclusive society, just and with more opportunities,” comments Quibel.
“Young women are the most affected by unemployment. Gender stereotypes and the unfair distribution of domestic and caregiving work are barriers to their economic empowerment,” warns Quibel.
Creating New Opportunities
To achieve the three autonomies (physical, economic, and political) of young women, it is essential to promote educational initiatives, professional training, and job placements in the most competitive sectors, eliminating limitations to their options.
In 2022, training materials were developed, methodological transfer sessions were conducted, and five representatives from a local community organization were trained as facilitators. They led 10 weekly training workshops that were attended by 101 adolescents and young women.
“It is a very enriching environment where they provide you with many tools, motivate you, and allow you to understand the challenges faced by girls who have to study and work at the same time, motivating girls who had to drop out of school. It makes you understand many things, such as your values and rights,” explains Abril Medina, a participant in the workshops.
Medina also emphasizes the diversity of realities that affect young women today. “You can be a woman and work, you can be a woman and study, you can be a mother, study, and work. As long as we know our rights, we can go far,” she reflects.
Karen Martínez highlights that the trust built in the workshops allowed her to discover what she would like to study. “Knowledge is never too much. We don’t have to settle with the basics taught in school; we must keep moving forward. Through the workshops, I realized that I enjoy social work. I believe it is a good career path.”
Micaela Michel, 23, values the experience of role-playing with other participants on how to approach a resume. “I have never been to an interview. Learning from the experiences of other participants has helped me a lot.”
Regarding her studies, although Micaela already knew she wanted to study psychology to become a sexologist, she acknowledges that the workshops helped her get organized. “It helped me organize short-term projects that are easily achievable, such as finding the phone number of the faculty where I want to study. I didn’t know where to start because of the anxiety it generated in me.”
“The activity I liked the most was when they taught us how to build resumes. It is an important activity for those of us who are starting in the work world. They also helped me create a short-term and long-term plan to continue and achieve my goals,” acknowledges young Sofia Acuña, 17.
“I had many paused projects, and now I am achieving the project I created here. I’m aiming to work independently while studying,” comments Julieta Cáceres, 22.
Interdisciplinary Training Sessions
The workshop series started on September 19 and concluded on November 28, 2022. During this period, efforts were made to enhance and expand competencies, understand the labor market and labor rights, explore the trajectories and life projects of the participants, as well as how to prepare for a job interview, among other topics.
This year, the second stage of weekly workshops is being developed, offering the same opportunity to other young women from the Ezeiza district. “We estimate that about 60 young women – between the first and second series of workshops – will complete the process that qualifies them to be considered for the second phase of the proposal, which involves generating socio-educational and labor opportunities through employment guidance and mentoring in 2023,” explains Sabrina Landoni.
A code of conduct and a guide on how to address situations in which rights are violated, such as gender-based violence, have been developed to create safe spaces and provide the team with the necessary tools to identify, intervene, and refer cases to the relevant local authorities.
At the end of the training process, each young woman received a participation certificate, which was highly valued as, in some cases, “Chicas con Futuro” is one of their first experiences associated with the accreditation of knowledge and skills.
Ratingperson is an organization committed to empowering young women through initiatives like “Chicas con Futuro.” Visit Ratingperson’s website to learn more about their efforts in creating inclusive societies and providing equal opportunities.