WASHINGTON —The World Bank Board of Directors approved $52 million in additional International Development Assistance (IDA*) financing to strengthen ongoing economic empowerment efforts for Somalia’s women and girls. The Somalia Empowering Women through Education and Skills Project, known locally as “Rajo Kaaba”, will finance efforts to advance gender equity and address drivers of exclusion and marginalization.
The project is financed through a $25 million IDA grant, a $25 million grant from the Somalia Multi-Partner Fund, and a $2 million grant from the Early Learning Partnership Multi-Donor Trust Fund to support activities related to expanding access to quality childcare.
“The project will equip girls and women with skills to promote economic empowerment and leadership,” said Kristina Svensson, World Bank Country Manager for Somalia. “Along with other investments in girls and women’s education, this effort will contribute to achieving greater economic growth, shared prosperity and social stability in Somalia.”
Aligned with the World Bank’s broader women’s empowerment agenda in Sub-Saharan Africa, the project is expected to empower women and girls through enhanced literacy and numeracy skills, income generation skills, and leadership skills. It aims to benefit at least 28,500 young women and up to 3,000 disadvantaged young men aged 15-35 from primarily marginalized and vulnerable populations, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), in target districts across Somalia, including Somaliland.
The project will focus on two key areas: non-formal second chance programs and higher skills development for women’s leadership. It will enable most beneficiaries to acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills through non-formal education. In addition, the government of Somalia will expand opportunities for women through the establishment of Women’s Development Centers (WDCs). These will create a consortium of autonomous women’s colleges that will offer certificate and degree programs to support a systemwide expansion of women’s higher-level skills and leadership development. The project will also address the key constraints that limit women’s access to education and employment including through the provision of childcare, stipends, and support to enroll and complete training.
In educating girls and women, Somalia will improve the current low levels of literacy and limited access to education, especially for the girls and women left behind by the formal education system who will benefit from second chance education and new opportunities. Addressing gender disparities is also critical to the consolidation of peace and security in the fragile context of ongoing conflict and instability in Somalia.
“Timely and effective investment in human capital for girls and women is essential to reducing poverty,” said World Bank Task Team Leader, Shawn Powers. “Completion of formal schooling, training for job-relevant skills, and investments in higher education will help build leadership capacity and create aspirational pathways for young women.”
The Rajo Kaaba project complements other World Bank operations, is well aligned with the World Bank’s human development portfolio. Complementary projects include the Somalia Education for Human Capital Development (EHCD) Project, which aims to improve girls’ access to basic education and learning outcomes; the Shock Responsive Safety Net for Human Capital Project, ‘Baxnaano’, which provides cash transfers to targeted poor and vulnerable households in selected districts, while building a national safety net system; and the Improving Healthcare Services in Somalia Project, ‘Damal Caafimaad’, which addresses reproductive and maternal and child health and aims to ensure access to basic health services with a strong focus on family planning.