FIRST LADY CALLS FOR URGENCY IN ADDRESSING STATUS OF ADOLESCENT GIRLS
The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Mrs. Janet Museveni has said the high and unacceptable statistics on the vulnerabilities experienced by adolescent girls in Uganda demand all stakeholders championing the adolescent girl agenda to urgently re-define strategies and take appropriate action to change the situation.
She quoted the 2016 Uganda Demographic Health Survey which revealed that 25% of adolescents aged 15-19 years in Uganda have begun childbearing and the statistics compiled by UNICEF in 2015 which show that child marriages stand at 49% and approximately 35% of girls drop out of school because of early marriages while 23% drop out of school because of early pregnancy.
“As a mother myself and having taken on the responsibility as Champion of the Adolescent Girl Agenda, I am deeply concerned about the slow progress in addressing the existing drivers that contribute to the current status quo”, Mrs. Janet Museveni said.
She was addressing the inter-ministerial task force meeting on the adolescent girl agenda that she hosted at State House Nakasero on Thursday. This was the second meeting of the Inter Ministerial Task Force which was launched in November 2015 with the purpose of strengthening Government’s efforts to promote the development of the adolescent girl through collective effort.
The meeting organized by the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) Uganda in partnership with the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development was attended by the Ministers of Internal Affairs General Jeje Odongo, State Minister for Agriculture Christopher Kibanzaga, State Minister for Environment Mary Goretti Kitutu, the Inspector General of Police General Kale Kayihura, the Director of Public Prosecutions Justice Mike Chibita, Permanent Secretaries plus representatives from the UN family and Civil Society Organizations.
“I convene this meeting with a burdened heart, urging you the heads of Government and other key stakeholders gathered here to move from the characteristic rhetoric of stock taking to owning this Championship that tasks each one of us to ensure a better world for our daughters and creating doors of opportunity and promoting an enabling environment for each girl to grow, develop and reach her full potential”, Mrs. Museveni said.
She stressed the fact that the development of young people is a product of a partnership of family, society, government and non-governmental sectors and however pointed out the primarily responsibility of the family especially in the initial stages of child development. “I would therefore like to challenge us to rethink our strategies with a special focus on families so as to equip young people with life skills way before becoming adolescents as a preventative measure. Families are fundamental because they are in regular contact with children, they help to shape both their behavior and the social context in which they grow up; factors we can leverage on to achieve the Adolescent Girl Agenda” she emphasized.
The Adolescent Girl Agenda Champion thanked all stakeholders for their concerted efforts in supporting this cause in Uganda and made special mention of the partnership with the development partners more especially the UN family who have made it possible for the continued implementation of programmes on promoting this Agenda.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development Pius Bigirimana reported that a lot of progress has been made since the inauguration of the Task force in 2015. He said the national multi-sectoral framework on the adolescent girl and the communication for development strategy are both under finalization, while partnerships have been strengthened and the budget and resource mobilization framework have been harmonized.
After fruitful deliberations where all stakeholders pledged to play a role in addressing issues of the adolescent girl, the meeting resolved to come up with a matrix with a clear work plan with clear outputs and performance indicators from all stakeholders within a specific time frame and also agreed that they would all be held responsible of action or inaction.