KAMPALA — A section of young people in Uganda have asked government to create a supportive legal and policy environment that enhances access to safe abortion services.
Speaking during the launch of ICPD25 youth position paper – Uganda,
Mr. Jacob Eyeru, the Chairperson of the National Youth Council said access to safe abortion should include realizing universal access to the management of preventable complications arising from unsafe abortion; ensuring in cases where abortion is decriminalized the availability of safe, comprehensive, and quality abortion services.
“Government should amend the laws, regulations, strategies and public polices relating to the voluntary termination of pregnancy in order to protect the lives and health of women and adolescent girls to improve ther quality of life, ” he said.
ICPD25 youth position paper – Uganda, launched by State Minister for Health in charge of General Duties Hanifa Kawooya also highlighted worrying statistics including unemployment, sexual and gender based violence and Not in education, employment and training (NEET).
For example, the paper shows that 8.8 million young people aged 15-24 are not in education, employment or under any training while 22% of the adolescents aged 13-18 have left school.
Mr. Eyeru said that engaging young people is key when holding discussions on Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) because they are not only affected by these SRHR issues but also have the right to meaningfully participate in discussions such as these.
The pre-youth conference purposed to leverage the policies, guidelines, strategies, and frameworks developed by the Government to facilitate the environment for the provision of SRHR services in the country in relation to Advanced Youth Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. Young people’s SRHR had started to register tremendous improvements, however, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a relapse.
The virtual pre-youth conference therefore created a platform for youth-led and youth-serving organizations to share progress, achievements, innovative practices, lessons learned, recommendations to foster SRHR integration in the “new normal.”
Minister Hanifah Kawooya highlighted the importance of Integrating GBV together with SRHR service delivery and programming as it increases the uptake of SRH services among young people.
She encouraged stakeholders to empower young women and men to prevent SGBV and mitigating the effects on the survivors.
“The Ministry of Health is committed to collaborating with relevant actors and sectors to support the delivery of quality and integrated sexual and reproductive health services while ensuring human rights for young men and women,” she added.
She further noted that most HIV infections and SGBV cases result from SRHR challenges hence the need for integration.
Young people from youth-led organizations shared experiences and constraints faced when advancing SRH services and information to peers especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result of the dialogue, the young people formulate key commitments and recommendations that encouraged integrating SRHR, GBV, and HIV in fulfillment of the rights of young people which will contribute to Uganda achieving ICPD+25 commitments and SDGs 3 and 5.
Speaking at the ICPD25 National Youth Summit, UNFPA Uganda representative Mary Otieno said young people can be great agents of change and hold duty bearers accountable.
She urged the different stakeholders working with young people to build their capacities and share with them opportunities to take action in playing their roles in implementing the ICPD25 commitments.
Otieno noted that UNFPA believes in youth involvement participation.