Youth Leaders, Stakeholders Strategize on Ending Teenage Pregnancies and Child Marriages
Amidst the prevailing COVID-19 effects, youth leaders and various stakeholders have devised strategies and shared progress on interventions aimed at ending teenage pregnancies and child marriages in Uganda.
This was during a dialogue attended by youth leaders from National Youth Council (NYC), Uganda National Students Association (UNSA) and Youth Parliamentarians Forum to follow up on commitments made by youth leaders at the World Population Day in Teso and Acholi sub-regions on Tuesday, 13th September 2022.
Some of the commitments included; disseminating accurate Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information and services, embracing saving as a culture to promote financial empowerment among women and girls, and developing disability-inclusive learning materials, among others.
Hon Jacob Eyeru, the Chairperson of the National Youth Council noted that financial management and literacy programs will help to address the scourge. He added,
“The Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs is also working on a startup bill. The startup bill is aimed at making youth financing in this country easier.”
To ensure the dissemination of SRHR information, Eyeru called for collaborative efforts on scaling up the use of audio/visual messages in the local languages.
“Recently, we launched the Multiparty Youth Forum. This is bringing together the three youth structures that are in some way recognized by the state, such as the Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs, National Youth Council and the Uganda National Students Association with all the political party youth structures that are represented by the parliament. This is because we want to have an impact.
And finally, special consideration is being made in the national youth structures for persons with disabilities, and special representation is for national leadership level,” he revealed.
According to the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), about 31,566 teenage girls got pregnant monthly and about 250 children aged below 15 years got pregnant monthly in 2021. This calls for investments majorly in education, health and protection of young people.
Hon Silas Aogon, MP Kumi Municipality, Kumi District tasked his fellow parliamentarians, led by the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs to champion the efforts of making education accessible, affordable and friendly to school-going children.
In August 2022, the Youth Representative of Northern Uganda, Hon. Boniface Okot moved a motion urging the government to prioritize ventures that empower young people.
“In that motion, we look at 4 thematic areas which are incumbent of issues around teenage pregnancies and child marriages including; youth employment and livelihood, youth responsive social services (Education and health), participation of young people in decision-making and climate change and governance,” he said.
Hon Edson Rugumayo, Western Youth MP called for deliberate government efforts toward supporting innovative young people.
"Uganda has several problems that could be solved by ICT solutions. For our young people from universities that come up with new ideas, the government should take them on; create an ecosystem for them,” he said.
Recently, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) launched the second National strategy to end child marriage and teenage pregnancy 2022/2023 – 2026/2027. Sylvia Pimer, Youth Officer at the ministry, noted that such materials should be disseminated to leaders and young people.
“We should equip the young people and youth leaders with the parenting guidelines so that they can be the voices of others.”
Meanwhile, Dr Rodgers Ampwera - Executive Director, Naguru Teenage Information and Health Centre called for collaborative efforts among Civil Society actors on advocating for policies; government funding through the development of motions that can be raised at the parliamentary youth forum.