Contribution of youth livelihood programme to young women's economic empowerment in Rubabo County, Rukungiri District
Gumaoshabe, Apollo Bright
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Existing literature shows that economically empowering women is a win-win situation that can benefit the whole society and facilitate poverty eradication and national development. Whereas there is sound national commitment to women’s economic empowerment, the contribution of YLP to young women’s economic empowerment, their advancement, power and agency especially in rural setting like Rubabo County has not been adequately investigated. This study attempted to assess the contribution of the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) to the economic empowerment of women beneficiaries in Rubabo county focusing on the effect of YLP on power and agency outcomes of female beneficiaries and design and operational features of YLP that have a bearing on women’s economic empowerment. The study adopted a cross-sectional research design using both qualitative and quantitative research methods. The study population consisted of sample of 60 female members of 30 Youth Interest Groups who participated in YLP for at least last twelve (12) months before commencement of this study as primary respondents. In addition to primary respondents, 8 key informant interviews of Officials from sub-county to national levels were conducted. Results of this study indicated that majority of young women’s supported projects were Goat rearing (33.3 %), boda boda riding (16.7%), and piggery (11.7%). The study found out that 48.3% of the female members of YIGs under YLP had been formed 1 to 2 years ago pointing to the fact that they were formed purposely to access YLP funding. This indicated that close to half of YLP beneficiaries in Rubabo County, have limited experience in group dynamics further explaining the revelation of mismanagement of YLP funds by their group leaders, sometimes in collusion with the sub-county officials. Majority of the women (61.7%) reported an increase in income levels, 18.5% reported increase in savings, 5% reported increase in assets and 15% reported increase in the purchase of inputs, and expansion of their physical assets base of their businesses. The study also established the contribution of the YLP towards skills development and noted that a number of skills were learnt by the women engaged in the different enterprises. The women were able to gain varied skills from the enterprises that they engage in. Majority 76.7% reported that participation in the YLP had to a large extent enabled them to exercise their civic rights. The study concludes that there is a noticeable and positive impact of financial programmes by government on the living standards, empowerment and poverty alleviation among the rural women. It should however be noted that although female beneficiaries of YLP in Rubabo County revealed increased income from YLP, they indicated that the profits have not positively impacted on their standards of living as the group has to focus on the obligation of remitting the funds within the mandated grace period of one year while others lost personal property to repay the loan. Similarly, the design of programme overlooked the community groups’ dynamics for instance limiting beneficiaries to come from one cell/ village in which case most member did not share a vision for which funds were applied. The programme’s effort to track performance of the groups was given very limited attention in design of this programme. Financing model where females and males within a given group are assumed homogeneous and have common interest and skills, and can take up same projects, is gender blind as it ignores the culturally assigned gender roles. To achieve improvement in the livelihoods of female youth, social policy and programmes should be designed in such a way that they accord a socio economically convenient ground for female participation.