UYAHF holds mega she decides festival in Mbale District

Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum holds mega she decides festival in Mbale District and it was under the theme; “voice, choice and control for girls”

March 2rd, as the world celebrates SheDecides day, Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum, a youth-serving organization that seeks to advance health, rights and wellbeing of adolescent girls, and young women held a festival on 29th Feb at Mbale SS playgrounds for the first time

She Decides is a Global Movement that envisions a world where every girl and woman can decide what to do with her body, with her life and with her future. Without question and the movement aims at challenging anyone that denies women and girls their basic human rights to make decisions about their bodies

Students presenting a poem at she decides festival

Prior to the festival, the Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum team and partners had been to different communities in Mbale district creating awareness on women’s rights and cleaning the communities

On 29th, Feb, the day officially began with a procession from Mbale SS playground to town and later went into speeches from local area leaders, performances from different schools and stakeholders who emphasized the need to fight teenage pregnancy, Gender-based violence in the Mbale district.

Mbale is among the districts in Uganda that have high child marriages, teenage pregnancies, which have significantly contributed to high school dropout rates. Studies indicate that girls between 13 and 24 years are already mothers, pregnant or at risk of getting pregnant in Uganda across Africa

In sub-Saharan African, Uganda has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy that is over 25% but who is responsible for these teenage pregnancies? Are these young girls defiled? Is it due to parental neglect? Is it because the ministry of education delayed passing sexuality education framework? Is it because of Poverty?

Rita Nabusayi, 16-year-old girl, a student from Mbale SS said; “We want parents, teacher, duty bearers and policymaker to know that it’s not okay for us girls to be pregnant in our teenage age

She Decides champions spotlighted the need to give the agency and demanding for a new normal where girls decide without a question.

The She Decides team awarded outstanding individual from Eastern Region who have made a significant contribution to the enhancement of Sexual Reproductive Health, gender equality and promotion of the rights of girls, and the award winners were Ms. Annette Tumusiime, Regan Wanyama, and Nalumansi

Dr. Emmanuel Tugaineyo Ituuza, the Director Mbale Hospital while speaking at she decides festival encouraged youth especially girls to always seek information on Sexual Reproductive Health because it is their right, and called other stakeholders to stand with champions to fight gender-based violence against women and girls

During the festival, the merrymakers were offered free health services like family planning services, cervical cancer screening, HIV testing and counselling by PSI Uganda, Mariestopes International Uganda and among others.

Health workers from Naguru Hospital providing HIV services to students

“Ensuring that health services at health facilities are friendly for young people enables them to access and utilize them to the fullest, thus a healthy young generation” – Dr. Wanjisi, D.H.O Mbale local government said

The general merrymakers across Mbale district were then treated to lots of entertainment from Health icons, Valentino the dancer, Inspector Jil and top artists like Mun*G and Cindy, and it was indeed a boom party as the festival winds up

Singer Mun*G performing live at she decides festival

It is always great to find such big public figures also advocate for the rights of a girl child

The dance hall king, Cindy on stage performing at she decides festival

Frank Byaruhanga is a human rights activist with years of experience in community dialogues, digital communication, advocacy and digital campaigns. He specializes in Media Relation Work, Management and Training with sufficient knowledge in Governance, Accountability, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Youth-led research, Content developer, Creative Activism, Social Media Management and documentary photography.

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