« 100 YEARS – 100 LIVES » | EGYPT - “I didn’t have a life, but now I feel strong”

Randa - a young woman from Egypt - became financially independent after attending an ILO employment programme.

Feature | Egypt |
CAIRO - Randa is a 36-year-old woman from the Cairo area who lived in poverty for many years. As an unmarried woman, she was financially dependent on her brother who did not want her to leave the house to work.

“Day after day, I just sat at home and my life consisted of watching TV, eating and sleeping,” she recalled.

One day, one of her friends told her about the possibility of joining an ILO training for employment programme and working in a textile factory.

The prospect of becoming financially independent was very tempting for Randa and she decided to give it a try.

Months later, she certainly does not have any regrets. The training she received and the first pay check she earned as an employee at Tie, a company producing sportswear for international brands, completely changed her existence.

“I didn’t have a life, but now I feel strong,” she said proudly.

Starting with the basic

“There was a need to start with the basics since many women have a low education level and never had a job in the formal sector,” explained Christine Hofmann, from the ILO Cairo office.

So the project first offers a one week off-the-job training session on essential skills. For example, participating women learn the proper attitude towards work, how to behave in a team, how to communicate on different hierarchy levels and how to claim their rights at work.

The off-the-job training is followed by an on-the-job training phase that lasts over a one to three months’ period in either a textile or food processing company. Women learn job-specific skills and are introduced to the different machines, educated on safety issues and informed about the whole production cycle.

To ensure decent and sustained employment, implementing agencies signed an agreement with the companies in which they committed to issuing a renewable contract, to pay a $40 salary during the training period and a minimum monthly wage of around $110 upon completion of the training. They were also covered under a group insurance during the training period.

Regular monitoring visits to the factories are conducted involving supervisors but also the women themselves, providing important information on working conditions in the workplace.

Companies involved in the programme are very happy about this opportunity to hire more trained staff.

“The women hired through the project have learned to cope with difficulties, are more committed and follow instructions better. They really apply the soft skills they learned, especially the communication skills,” said Ms Rabab, human resources manager at Tie.

Feeling empowered

Since she finished her training, Randa developed her leadership and communication skills, which enabled her to be more open. She now enjoys talking and engaging with other people. She feels strong and empowered. She even takes computer courses on her own and no longer worries that her brother is not talking to her.

“Working in a factory is nothing bad. On the contrary, it leads to financial independence”, she concluded.

Randa is one of the 16,500 women who have benefited from the programme implemented in the Greater Cairo and Sharquia Governorate. This project specifically targeting women is a good example of various activities developed by the ILO to boost employability of young men and women in Egypt.

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