Orange the World: End Child Pregnancy Now!
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of life in Uganda, resulting in school closures, loss of jobs, and disruptions in access to health and social services. But no group has felt the effects of the pandemic more than adolescent girls!
World Vision Uganda today the 25th November 2021 kicked off their activities to mark the 16 days of Activism against Gender Based Violence with a Webinar teenage pregnancies under the theme: “Orange the World: END TEENAGE PREGNANCY NOW!”.
The webinar who’s many purpose was to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the various instruments and identify lessons learnt with successful ending-violence interventions was attended by stakeholders from different spaces, and this is a good sign because it keeps everyone in check as far as ending violence is concerned.
A report by UNFPA stipulates that many adolescent girls have been deprived of the social protection that school offers and have been exposed to risks of sexual violence, exploitation and abuse, child marriages, and teenage pregnancies.
Grace Hellen Namulwana, the Child protection technical lead with world Vision Uganda who moderated the webinar said that Children who experience sexual abuse are more likely to be socially isolated, suffer from mental health problems, and attempt and commit suicide and are also more likely to develop alcohol or drug dependencies.
“These outcomes impact every aspect of a child’s life, including their ability to develop into productive adults” Hellen adds.
Rev. Richard M. Rukundo, a Child rights advocate and youth Mentor also sights stigma against survivors, fear of intimidation, lack of awareness and of trust in the benefits of services as one of the major challenges in addressing issues of teenage pregnancy.
“Many have accepted violence as normal and this has made it difficult to change their mindsets” Rev Richard adds.
At 9 million, adolescents make up a quarter of the population in Uganda. Yet life is harsh for many. Poverty, HIV and AIDS, early marriage, teenage pregnancy, gender-based violence and low participation education has made it difficult for young people to fulfil their potential.
According to Rosette Nanyanzi, a Gender Technical advisor with the ministry of Education & sports, Adolescent girls, in particular, face multiple vulnerabilities because 25% of Ugandan teenagers become pregnant by the age of 19 and close to half are married before their 18th birthday.
“To make it worse, many teenage mothers do not have access to adequate reproductive health care and die while trying to give life” Rosette adds.
In 2013, Uganda was ranked 16th out of 25 countries with the highest rate of teenage pregnancies, and this worsened during the Lockdowns and school closures that kept many young people stuck at home and exposing them to sex abuse, and teenage pregnancies. The little access to birth control also made matters worse for the vulnerable girls.
According to the UNFPA 2020 fact sheet on teenage pregnancy in Uganda, 3 districts had an increase in teenage pregnancies by over 25 percent from 2019 to 2020. For example, Dokolo in lango district had 35.2%, Budaka in Bukedi had 28.7%, Teso had 28.6% and Manafwa in Bugisu with 19.1%, Sheema in Ankole with 18.1% and Napak in Karamoja had 12.6%
The teenage pregnancy rate of 25% in Uganda is worrying. Young mothers risk poor maternal and child health, being isolated, attempting unsafe abortions, failure to continue with school, and poverty.
Recommendations spanning family, community and government involvement can ultimately empower girls, their families and community members, and support collective action to reduce teenage pregnancies.