Cameras for girls
Local woman helping to foster female journalists in Africa hopes for local assistance to expand program
Kawartha Lakes resident Amina Mohamed is passionate about photography and how the power of a picture can move people to action.
Since 2018, through a program called Cameras for Girls, Mohamed, who spent her early life in the eastern African nation of Uganda, has been assisting young women in her former homeland obtain the skills necessary to enter the fields of journalism and photography.
Mohamed’s organization has a very ambitious plan for expanding the program to other African nations. She hopes that Canadians who see value in what she is pioneering will assist Cameras for Girls with time, money and donations of cameras that will be used by a new generation of budding photojournalists.
“Girls and women across Africa face many obstacles to their career goals, including a lack of opportunities, cultural bias, systemic harassment, and gender discrimination,” Mohamed told the Advocate. “Cameras For Girls was created to ensure African women could capture their stories and, more importantly, get paid work. We provide our students with a camera to keep and a year-long, four-phase photography and business skills training program, empowering them to elevate their voices and capture their stories visually.”
“While our program targets (university educated) girls endeavouring to become journalists, some of our girls will follow careers in photography or communications and media,” Mohamed said. “We are proud to share that we have successfully trained 64 girls in Uganda through our in-person workshops, and 72 per cent of our students now have full-time paid work in journalism, communications, and photography-related careers.”
In a telephone interview, Mohamed said all the young women participate in the program for free, and that the ownership of a camera is often a ticket to meaningful work where they can support themselves, their extended families and alleviate the poverty that dogs many African women in societies where the fight for gender equality has barely begun.
“Girls are waiting to be given opportunities,” Mohamed said. “Women and girls (even with post-secondary education) don’t have many opportunities and I am saddened and angered at the barriers they face. This program has become something bigger than I ever imagined.”
Mohamed is so excited by the successes the program has achieved that her organization is looking to grow Cameras for Girls in 2024. She would like to see the program expand to other African nations including Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria, “fostering an inclusive environment that empowers women to pursue their dreams.”
Mohamed suggests that this expansion is possible if a number of factors are met, including the creation of a “training the trainers” program where previous graduates on the ground in Uganda will train the next generation of young women there. This model will be utilized in other nations once the initial intake of photojournalists is trained and able to share their skills and experiences. Mohamed said that this plan for expansion will only work if Cameras for Girls is able to grow their fund-raising and local collaborative efforts and establish sustainable sources of long-term funding.
“We are poised to make a lasting impact on the lives of young women in Africa,” Mohamed said. “Together, let us champion diversity, break barriers, and empower the next generation of young women to capture the world through their unique lenses.”
To learn more about this initiative visit camerasforgirls.org.