KAMPALA – The Hunger Project Uganda (THP-U) was part of the organizing committee for the second National Girl Summit 2019 that was attended by over 250 delegates from Uganda and 5 countries from East Africa, Central Africa, Asia, and North America in Kampala from 26th -27th November 2019 at Hotel Africana Kampala. The key purpose of the event was to engage and reflect on the first National Girl Summit and actions around working together to end child marriage and Teenage pregnancy in Uganda. At the end of the two-day event, 150 commitments were made by individuals, Sessions were organized in partnership with 8 organisations aimed at showcasing best practice ending child marriage in Uganda. THP-U presented a side session titled “Harnessing the power of SRHR services and information in preventing teenage pregnancy and child marriage among the vulnerable girls including the deaf”
Five panelists shared THP-U experiences in delivering SRHR services and information to prevent teenage pregnancy and child marriage. moderated by Nakakande Josephine – The Epicenter program Officer and Mukisa Flavia, Her Choice Peer Educator, The panelists included Joyce Nakato who shared THP-U SRHR flagship projects, Her Choice project that seeks to create child marriage free communities in epicenters funded by the Netherlands Foreign Affairs Ministry through Her Choice Alliance, an alliance of 4 Dutch based partners that include The Hunger Project, Stichting Kinderpostzegels Nederland (lead organisation), International Child Development Initiative (ICDI) and the University of Amsterdam. She also shared about Safe Choices for Deaf Girls’ project funded with UK AID from the UK Government through Small Charity Challenge Fund (SCCF) implemented in Mbale. Dr. Jonathan Wagisi, Mbale District Health Officer shared the experience of the local government in partnering with THP-U to deliver SRHR services and information to the vulnerable girls, Immaculate Namisavu, Registered at Nurse Namayumba epicenter Health facility shared her experiences supporting vulnerable girls access SRHR services and information through the youth-friendly health corner, Rebeca Masaba, an 18-year-old girl and a mother of 11 months old child shared experiences of deaf girls in accessing SRHR services and James Senkonko, a boy/men champion at Wakiso epicenter shared about the role of boys and men in supporting access to SRHR.
“I find it hard to communicate with the health workers who use verbal language, I then stay in the line for long because I can never hear or know when my is name being called, even when I get to see the Dr. I can’t explain my condition very well either can they explain the drug prescription in the language I understand…’ Rebeca, a deaf girl below shared.
According to Gerald Kato, Coordinator for Her Choice project and Safe Choices project for the deaf girls, by the end of November 2019, THP-U was working directly with a network of 4,500 girls from 9 epicenters from 45 schools supporting atleast 100 girls in each school access information on SRHR and services and benefits of girl child education and avoiding child marriage.
‘Under Her Choice project, we are implementing a comprehensive & multi-sectoral approach hinged on 6 inter-linked strategies that are empowering girls to decide if, when and whom she gets married to. Through THP-U supported health facilities, 30 girls’ access SRHR services and information through youth-friendly health corners. in total atleast 270 girls are getting these services across a network of 9 health facilities in the country from well-trained healthcare service providers who are cognizant of the unique health needs for young people”
Gerald further added Under Safe Choices for deaf girl’s project that begun implementation this year, by November 2019, 413 young deaf people had been reached with SRHR information and services.
The National Girls summit 2019, was organized as part of the activities to commemorate 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. Approximately one in three women and girls globally experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Child marriage is a manifestation of that violence, putting women and girls at increased risk of sexual, physical, and psychological violence and related outcomes, such as poor health and depression, throughout their lives. Girls who marry as children are at increased risk of violence from their partners or their partners’ families. The greater the age difference between girls and their husbands, the more likely they are to experience intimate partner violence (IPV). Recent analysis of Demographic and Health Survey data found that globally, girls married before the age of 15 were almost 50% more likely to have experienced either physical or sexual IPV than those married after 18. IPV and other forms of violence against women, in addition to being a rights violation in and of themselves, are associated with poor SRH outcomes such as HIV infection, unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, and other outcomes such as poor mental health, depression and even suicide.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. It was started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. As part of the commitment to this cause, THP-U chose to showcase the importance of providing SRHR services and information in preventing teenage pregnancy and child marriage.