The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), with generous support from the Government of Japan, celebrated the graduation of 40 young mothers after they successfully completed a three-week livelihood training at Lidar Community Centre in Katutura.

Under the UNFPA’s ‘Leaving No One Behind’ project, the training and graduation were held in collaboration with Regain Trust and Lidar Community Foundation on 29 November, and sought to promote the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young mothers through livelihood skills training and information sharing on gender-based violence (GBV) and SRHR.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, the Japanese Ambassador to Namibia, His Excellency Hisao Nishimaki, said that “the skills gained during training will contribute to these young people’s resilience to deal with and overcome setbacks that life throws at them by diversifying their livelihood systems.”

The graduation was a milestone moment for the young mothers (who are all under the age of 25), as they are now able to establish their own income-generating businesses with the various skills they have gained in numerous areas, including cooking, baking, housekeeping, entrepreneurship, as well as information on GBV and SRHR.

During the graduation, participants received starter kits with key equipment and ingredients for their new small businesses.

Approximately 32% of adolescent girls aged 15–19 and 35% of young women aged 20-24 have encountered physical violence from a partner in Namibia.

The pervasive impact of gender-based violence on Namibia extends to economic and developmental setbacks, including absenteeism, loss of work days due to illnesses, and hospitalizations with insufficient economic and livelihood opportunities, making women more susceptible to harmful practices such as human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

Thanks to the Government of Japan, the 40 young mothers—most of whom became mothers as teenagers—graduated with starter kits that included a mini oven, mixing bowls, baking trays, baking ingredients, and measuring spoons, providing a strong foundation upon which these women can collectively build their small businesses, thereby improving and enhancing their living conditions and those of their families.

During the official handover of certificates and starter kits, the Japanese Ambassador, H.E. Nishimaki, congratulated the new graduates on their achievements, emphasizing that the Government of Japan remains committed to providing assistance to Namibia in the spirit of building resilience and contributing to livelihood upliftment efforts for the people of Namibia.

“I hope the tangible outcome of this project will further strengthen Japan-Namibia relations and continue to benefit the people of Namibia,” added H.E. Nishimaki.

In the photo: Over the course of three weeks, Regain Trust and Lidar Community Foundation trained the 40 young mothers in various skills including housekeeping, baking and entrepreneurship as part of the Japanese Government-funded Leaving No One Behind project. (Photo by UNFPA)