KAMPALA – Every year on August 12, Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate International Youths Day to celebrate the youths but most importantly to focus on the issues that they are confronted with.
The national celebrations were, however, pushed to August 26, under theme “Intergenerational solidarity: The role of the youths in the implementation of the parish development modal”.
Uganda’s population is comprised of about 80% of young people below 30 years.
Sharing their perspectives on one of the key concerns that they believe must be addressed if the Implementation of the Parish Development Model (PDM) is to be effective, a group of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) including the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), Coalition for Action 1325 (COACT) and Youth Advocacy and Development Network Uganda said the government and all the stakeholders should put their emphasis on “the skyrocketing cases of teenage pregnancy.”
“…the skyrocketing teenage pregnancy rates are likely to undermine the success of the PDM if left unaddressed because they worsen the dependence syndrome and exacerbate the already constrained household resources.”
Last year Uganda launched a renewed strategy on ending child marriage and teenage pregnancy 2021/22 – 2025/2026 which is geared towards reducing teenage pregnancy.
The CSOs note that despite the presence of a robust legal and policy framework, there is an increasing incidence of teenage pregnancy.
According to the UNICEF report 2016, one out of five women in Uganda continue to engage in sexual activity before age 15, 64 per cent have sex before age 18 while 34 per cent of women aged 25-49 are married before the age of 18 and 7.3 per cent before the age of 15.
Ms. Elizabeth Ampairwe, Director of Programs at FOWODE says that as Uganda embarks on the implementation of PDM, they are concerned that the government is not investing enough in strengthening laws and policies on ending child marriage and teenage pregnancies which might be a hindrance for young people especially, Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) from benefiting from the PDM program.
Although the CSOs commend the government for renewing the National Strategy to end Child marriage and teenage pregnancy, they say that effort is insufficient to significantly address the situation of teenage pregnancy, for girls and young women to thrive to their full potential through the implementation of the Parish Development Model.
Now, the group wants the Government to invest more in livelihood promotion and skilling child mothers so that they acquire skills to start-up enterprises and income-generating activities.
Similarly, they want the Government to invest in the establishment and revamping of adolescent youth-friendly service centres with adequate youth-friendly services and information for girls and boys “because it’s only a healthy young population that will effectively implement the entire parish development model.”
They also urged the Ministry of Gender to operationalize the National Strategy on Ending Child Marriage and Teenage pregnancy 2021-2026 and ensure that its implementation country-wide is budgeted for.
“This will require an increase of the allocation of the budget to the children protection docket of the ministry from the current meagre 1% of the national budget to at least 10 %.”
Other recommendations include;
Design and implement inclusive cross-sectorial policies in education, health, agriculture, social development, water, and the environment. Adopting these cross-sectorial policies is also in line with the ongoing NDP III and will meaningfully promote inclusive implementation of parish development model by the youth.
To increase access to secondary education, GoU needs to implement policies and programmes that;
(i) Enable children to complete primary schooling and move into secondary education,
(ii) Provide young people, especially adolescent girls, with protection against violence and harmful practices,
(iii) Provide adolescents with access to sexual and reproductive health services
(iv) Provide adolescents with life skills and information to stay safe and healthy.
GoU is encouraged to invest in targeted skills programmes that enable adults to move into more productive jobs and to strengthen skills development at higher education institutions.
Effectively integrate inclusive and non-discriminative implementation of Parish development model with increased awareness of the pillars of the program to all categories of the youth especially adolescent girls and young women living with disabilities and vulnerable boys in refugee host communities.