Tuesday 22 October 2019, Reach A Hand Uganda held an Inter-generational dialogue at on teenage Pregnancy and the costs of restricted Sexual Reproductive Health information and services for young people at Serena Hotel Kampala.
The event brought together magnitude of young people, national stakeholders from across Uganda and Africa at large all yearning to witness the 5th Inter-generational dialogue. Yes it was a blast! As young people played, mixed and mingled with religious leaders, government officials, policy makers as they enjoyed the dialogue that took a toll on some of the issues that matter to them most.
According to Waiswa Batambuze, Reach A Hand Uganda communication Officer; the inter generational dialogue is an annual high level advocacy platform fostering structured conversations on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights issues affecting young people in Uganda
This year’s dialogue however came in a little bit different shape, like earlier said it was incredible as we explored some of the issues affecting young people in Uganda. This was followed by a breakaway unmasking the art of storytelling, Uganda’s development reality, why should the health school policy pass, the lifestyles or unmet needs of the youth.
In the audience was the king of Tooro, His Majesty Oyo Nyimna Kabamba Iguru who president over the event as the guest of honor. Who while addressing the congregation called for a more concerted and united efforts in addressing the released gaps.
‘The Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights needs of young people especially early and unintended pregnancies, we need to work on behavioral change and attitudes’- Her Majesty Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru said
Adding that, the majority of young people grew up in rural areas with no such kind of experience where over five hundred people come together to talk about what matters to them most because there were no safe spaces to echo concerns related to HIV and the resulting impact was the untimely death. It’s not because they wanted to die at an early age but it was because they lacked accurate information to make informed decisions in their lives and this is still a big issue
‘We see a number of girls dropping out of schools because they don’t have tools (fees, sanitary towels) to use at school or maybe they are forced by their parents to get married, could be the case too, these are challenges that a young girl/woman faces in her lifetime’
In 2013, Uganda endorsed the Eastern and Southern Africa Commitments as a joint commitment to deliver good quality, comprehensive sexuality education as well as sexual and reproductive health services for young people in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. The Commitments supports governments, civil society and communities to expand access to good quality life skills-based, gender-sensitive sexuality education and related support services but are these commitments been worked on or fulfilled by the government of Uganda?
School dropouts, High rate of teenage pregnancy (25% of adolescents aged 15-19 in Uganda have begun childbearing) and the use of drugs are still ruling the streets and sometimes, pregnant girls get expelled from schools, considered the most useless humans around. In fact, some get arrested, and no one is there for them to guide, no single person has time for them,and it is really heartbreaking and devastating situation
But as a result, growing up in this technological era has come with its resulting challenges, young people are exposed to too much information and we are left wondering if all they consume is age-appropriate?
Families are not friendly when it comes to sexuality education that is the reality, parents have neglected their roles at home. Since some of the young people have access to internet and left for college, the societies have been absolutely transformed because of the internet, advocates, CSOs that are in place. Yes, the places are somehow safer and lively but do young people openly talk about their sexuality life or ? A question for all of us to answer
During the dialogue, Charles Draecebo from UNESCO presented situation analysis on early and unwanted pregnancy in East and southern Africa and he said; Many girls are risked to unsafe abortion and as a country, we need to encourage young people to abstain from sex.
At the Uganda’s Development Realities discussions; Charles Owekweno talked about the implications of delaying sexuality education framework and school health policy that is about harnessing the strategic opportunity of the school to prepare and nurture children and youth into healthy adults.
Young people spend most of their valuable time at schools and teachers pay a key role in shaping the character, grooming these children to face the challenges of life. The most important investment the government CAN DO is investing in young people’s sexual reproductive health – Charles Owekweno added
“The population is high, teenage pregnancies are high, and to be honest the population is not a disaster but it should be looked at as dividend and are the youth’s educated, skilled, are they been included in decision making processes” Ms Hope said