Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: April 03, 2024

Overcoming Poverty by Empowering Women

How do you empower families and communities to transcend poverty and build more stable futures? As Salesian missionaries have long understood, you educate women. And that’s the goal of a new vocational training program in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Offered through the Marie Dominique Center in the Koumassi suburb, the program couldn’t have come soon enough. A historical lack of educational opportunities for girls—rooted in long-standing gender inequality—means that many area women and their families are illiterate. Illiteracy prevents them from finding livable-wage employment, and the cycle of poverty continues.

And so, the project officially called “Guaranteeing Access to the Labor Market through Vocational Training for Young Women” was born. Students are learning the job-ready, in-demand skills they need to become beauticians, hairdressers, seamstresses, cooks and hospitality staff. Initial demand was so high that 236 women immediately enrolled.

Project representative, Virginia Martín Lorenzo, explains that the training moves beyond practical education. Ultimately, she says, “links will be established with local companies and employers, which will facilitate the integration of young graduates into the labor market, creating a bridge between training and employment.”

Such end-to-end support will help graduates earn their own incomes, likely for the first time in their lives.

“This program reflects the intersection of several Salesian priorities around the world,” says Father Mike Conway, director of Salesian Missions. “Education, workforce development, and gender equality work hand-in hand to empower young women to find employment, support themselves and their families, make good decisions about their futures, and lead their communities forward. We can’t wait to see where these graduates land—and how the program continues to grow.”

Learn more about our work in Ivory Coast.

Our mission empowers young women by providing the education and skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty. What’s your mission?

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