International Needs Fashion Expressions holds its maiden graduation at Central Tongu

Mr. Barnabas Yisa in a group photo with the graduands
Mr. Barnabas Yisa in a group photo with the graduands

United Nations Population Found ( UNFPA) Prada Group and International Needs on Friday 2nd December, 2022, graduated 15 young women through a programme known as Fashion Expressions project at Mafi Adidome in the Central Tongu District of the Volta Region, at the centre for empowerment and enterprise development.

The Fashion Expressions programme seeks to advance and mentor aspiring fashion professionals and promote self agency on sexual and reproductive health for girls. The 15 young women went through six months of intensive training in garment construction, textile design, interior decor and fashion entrepreneurship among others.

UNFPA and Prada Group, are bringing together the Prada Group’s leading role in the fashion industry, and UNFPA’s expertise in promoting gender equality, in a unique and innovative partnership.

The pilot programme, Fashion Expressions: (The Stories She Wears), aims to leverage the social and economic power of fashion as a vehicle to promote women’s empowerment and sexual and reproductive health in a six-month training programme for young women in Ghana

The Executive Director of International Needs, Mr Cromwell Awade, in his address urged fashion designers to make positive impacts in the world of fashion design, both locally and internationally.

He said there is the need for young people to take advantage of the Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) policy in the country to advance their businesses.

According to him, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), had reported that the world was facing youth unemployment and the only alternative was for the youth to learn skills to employ themselves. They were entering the labour market at a significant time and multiple transformations in the global economy and technology.

To him, the 6 month fashion training program being piloted in Ghana and Kenya, with the objective of leveraging the social and economic power of fashion as a vehicle to promote women’s empowerment.

He stated that the program seeks to advance and mentor aspiring fashion professionals and promote self-agency on sexual and reproductive health. “It combines the leadership of UNFPA and Prada Group, a global leader in the fashion industry in promoting gender equality in a unique and innovative partnership.”

Mr Cromwell Awade, further advised the young women to explore the power of fashion in solving socio-economic problems and needs of young women towards ensuring that, there was a promotion of self agency on sexual and reproductive health as well.

On his part, the head of corporate social responsibility of Prada Group, Madam Lorenzo Bertelli said over the last six months, this group of outstanding young women have brought enthusiasm and passion as they worked to develop valuable experience and knowledge across many aspects of the fashion industry, including garment construction, textile design, millinery and accessories development, interior decor, and fashion entrepreneurship.

She expressed that, “The partnership with UNFPA made this unique program possible. We want to thank all of you for your active participation and for working to make this inaugural program such a success. Today, as you graduate from the Fashion Expressions programme, Prada Group wants to again recognize the hard work and dedication that has led you to this proud moment in your lives.”

To her, this group of graduates is an inspiration to young designers around the world, and wished them all further success as they begin their professional internship placements.

“We look forward to discovering what lies ahead for all of you incredible young women as you continue establishing your careers in the fashion industry. Take pride in how far you’ve come, and have faith in how far you can go as this achievement represents the floor and not the ceiling of what you can achieve. In so many ways you represent the future of the fashion industry, and we are confident that the future looks bright.” She added.

UNFPA and Prada Group formally entered into a partnership in 2021 and have been developing this unique training programme in collaboration with local partners International Needs Ghana.

UNFPA is working with creative industries to find innovative ways to support young women from ‘left behind’ communities to access their rights and choices in order to unlock their full potential. Fashion is a powerful platform to provide long-term, sustainable education and development opportunities across the world.

Mr Barnabas Yisa, Country Representative of United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA), in his remarks commended International Needs and the graduands for their continuous improvement of education through vocational and entrepreneurial training for young women in the country.

According to him, UNFPA for quite some time focuses on young people in terms of empowering them to become what they want to become to strengthen their development.

“The product group joined together with UNFPA and international needs mounted this program to ensure that at the beginning of this program, and by the time we finish, at least 15 of our young ladies would have acquired skills, knowledge and empowerment that we see them through life without being dependent on others”, he said.

Congratulating them for their hard work, he said, “I have to move forward also to the parents and family members. I want to congratulate you for supporting them and giving them that more support that they need to finish this six months training I will urge that you continue to support them.”

“You will find that reproduction of human race is very important. Why is it that our young girls today who are not in fashion industry get pregnant? Why is it that today? Our young girls who are below the age of 16 and sometimes down to 10, that gets married sometimes do not just get married. They are kidnapped or snatched when they are coming either from a ceremony or a key event in some parts of Ghana that shouldn’t be the case.”

“We must move forward. And therefore UNFPA at this point will say that as long as you have not completed your training in both the terms of the six months and the attachment we shall be with you and support you,” he reiterated.

The Special Guest of honor, Faakor Mortoo, in her speech urged the ladies to take the fashion industry to another level by improving their skills and experience and also try as much as possible to learn new things daily.

Ms Faakor Mortoo noted that with determination they can become one of the best fashion designers in the world hence the need to be hard working and focus to achieve the desired goals.

By: Bernard Dadzie

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