Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum | Communications Specialist
Religious leaders have often been left out of SRHR advocacy strategies, yet their influence is critical.
Uganda is characterised by a diversity of religious groups and practices, each with its own perceptions of sexuality education. As culture and religion are intertwined, many believers still practice some cultural values and norms to live harmoniously in their communities. Parents and religious leaders often have misconceptions of sexuality education, so there has been a gap in strengthening advocacy efforts to implement a sexuality education policy in Uganda.
"Being a youth ambassador has changed my life," Abou Diallo says. "I’ve become more and more the person I dream of being. Young people and adults come to me now for information on reproductive health and family planning." Photo courtesy of Abou Diallo.
Young leaders have the power to reach their peers and communities in ways most government officials can’t.
Abou Diallo was on vacation with his family when his girlfriend showed up to see him, agitated and worried. She hadn’t had her period for two months, she told him. A pregnancy test confirmed their fears.
University of South Florida | Doctoral Student/Research Associate
NGOs have established temporary clinics for IDPs in Northeastern Nigeria, but sexual and reproductive health services are still largely inadequate. Photo: Oluyemisi Falope
When I arrived, the insurgency was still trying to push back, launching attacks and using suicide bombers; the Nigerian army fought back. We could hear and feel bombs and shells going off every now and then. It is not something you get accustomed to: You just say your prayers and hope it is the soldiers warding off the insurgents.
WIL Uganda | Reproductive and Sexual Health Intern
Male students take part in the sexual and reproductive health programme at Townside Secondary School, Busembatia. Photo: Noraly Schiet, 2017
In Eastern Uganda, when a teenage girl becomes pregnant, she will stop attending school and instead, begin a life rearing children and looking after the family home and land. Teenage pregnancy remains high in Uganda, where more than one-third of girls give birth before the age of 18. Predictably, this is higher in rural areas. As well as teenage pregnancy, women and girls here face many sexual and reproductive health (SRH) challenges throughout their lives, including sex in exchange for “necessities,” poor menstrual hygiene, and a lack of access to family planning methods. This is why teaching and empowering girls from a young age about sexual and reproductive health and rights is a must. As part of the small grassroots organisation Women in Leadership (WIL) Uganda, based in Busembatia, for the last three months I have been doing just that across a number of schools.