She Is Able: Unleashing young girls’ potential in photography, filmmaking

In most cases, it is rare to find a girl behind the lenses at conferences and other events like men passionately do, at a time when photography and filmmaking continue to prove to be a profession of fortune as long as it is done with professionalism and creativity.

To engage women in photography, Weya Media, a digital company of young entrepreneurs came up with an initiative dubbed ‘She Is Able’ to train young girls with different multimedia skills and prepare them into future competitors in the business.

The company has experience in providing digital services in multimedia, including documentary films, TV and Radio spots, event video coverages, photo shooting, film soundtracks, as well as jingles and music production. Urunana Development Communication and Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company, are among Weya Media’s long-time partners that develops and produces their theatre contents.

Severin Sunday Sebahire, the Managing Director of Weya Media, explains that the initiative was created to inspire young girls to create their own jobs through photography and that they can get whatever they want without relying on people who give them gifts in attempt to ruin their future, with unwanted pregnancies, among the major consequences.

A beneficiary of the project learning practical skills in photography. 

“Basically, young girls are more vulnerable after school because when they do not have jobs, they are, most likely at risk of engaging into bad decisions that can affect their future in one way or another. Since we do not have the capacity to give all young girls jobs, we came up with this initiative to create something that can help them shape their future,” he says.

The girls are trained in professional skills in photography, videography, filmmaking, visual makeups and content production so that they can use these skills to create their own jobs once they enter the labor market.

“We couldn’t train them in tailoring or construction. We gave them what we have so they can take reference from us that our lives depend on what we do, as a motivation for them to do it passionately, committedly and with determination. This is a profession, which only a little number of girls practice and we want to show them that they can do it and that it is profitable,” he said.

“We chose to train them in photography, videography and filmmaking because this is a profession you can start with little startup capital. They can borrow equipment when a deals is offered, use their skills and save money to buy their own equipment,” he added.

Sandrine Uwituze (2nd left), one of the trainers at She Is Able, receives a certificate for her support.

 With three months gone since the project started in January, 220 young girls applied to benefit from ‘She Is Able’ first intake. However, only 40 were selected due to the fact that the company does not have enough equipment while the inadequate space is also a big challenge.

Trainees for the first intake select them through talent detection to identify those who can do better and the passion they have for the lens.

Having received a big number of young girls applying to study photography and filmmaking gave Sebahire enough confidence to push the initiative forward. Next week, the other 40 girls will be picked for the second intake after the first intake successfully graduated a week ago.

He is looking forward to seeing them create their own jobs and give jobs to more youth, hence contribute to the country’s quest to fight unemployment and poverty.

Boosting confidence

‘She Is Able’ is not only about equipping young girls with multimedia skills, but is also a golden opportunity to create confidence in girls that they can do what men can do, even in photography.

It is also a great chance for trainers to give inspiration to young girls to overcome different challenges that come with unemployment. The girls can then focus on the trainings and strive for self-reliance.

After the trainings, Weya Media assists the girls in acquiring internship opportunities at different recognised digital institutions, and the trainees can put into practice what they studied.

“Our first students graduated last week and we cannot let them go yet. We are trying to find internships for them at different professional institutions so that they can settle well on the market. We believe some institutions will hire them given the skills they have acquired during the trainings,” Sebahire says.

Sunday Severin Sebahire is the Managing Director of Weya Media which initiated ‘She Is Able’. 

The trainings are free of charge and trainers sacrifice their time to share their skills with the trainees.

Hamida Mukundente, 19, one of the beneficiaries, hails the initiative because it helped her discover her talent in photography and is ready to prove her creativity in the craft.

 “I can now take photos at different angles and I believe I have potential in photography, while my passion can take me farther in my future. The market is wide and I am confident of the competition.  What I liked about the training is that our trainers don’t stop at sharing skills but also give us advice on how we should present ourselves in society and this will help us in future,” she says.

She adds that any initiative that supports young girls is worth supporting and more young girls need to join the profession as long as the initiative is there for them.

Sandrine Uwituze is one of the trainers in photography at Weya Media. She said she was motivated to teach them photography, free of charge because the girls are very few in the profession.

She is confident that the initiative will boost competition in the photography and filmmaking market but, most importantly, views it as a platform where more girls will be exposed to the market.

“A very small number of women are in photography.  Girls feel like we are alone while many them out there can even do better than us. We wish to see more girls in this department and I am sure they can do it and challenge men. I trained them and I have faith in them. The only thing they lack is experience,” she says.

Challenges

Besides equipment and resources to motivate trainers among other challenges, Sebahire says that they have a very small training workshop, prompting trainers to train girls in three sessions while they can save time on the trainings as long as they get a class that can host a bigger number of trainees.

He, however, is optimistic that the challenge of limited space will be addressed since the Ministry of Youth promised to give him a training classroom that can host a bigger number of trainees.

 “We want to train a bigger number of trainees but we can’t do it because we have limited resources, few equipment and space for the training workshops,” he said.

 ‘This is a brilliant initiative and we hope to see everyone’s participation, from the government and the private sector, to the local international organisations, in supporting our initiative and empowering young girls. We would also be glad if we are supported to get more trainers and experts, to enable the girls get advanced training to improve their skills,” he says.

The first cohort of the ‘She Is Able,’ initiative graduated last week. Photos by Eddie Nsabimana.

Sebahire reveals they are planning to expand the project to reach more girls at different parts of the country while more vocational trainings will be added to the current program, to give young girls choice to study what they are passionate most.

“The trained girls have shown us they have a bright future ahead given the commitment, focus and teamwork they had during the trainings. If we get support, we can admit more young girls and reach them out nationwide, to give them a chance. My dream is to see ‘She Is Able’ grow into a big multimedia institution that only focuses on girls and which can help them shape a bright future by challenging the local market. I am confident that we will make it,” he says.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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