ADOLESCENT GIRL ISSUES SHOULD BE MAINSTREAMED IN GOVERNMENT PLANS: INTER MINISTERIAL TASK FORCE
The inter-ministerial task force for the Adolescent Girl Agenda has called for the mainstreaming of adolescent girl issues in the sector and local government development plans and annual plans and budgets, so as to strengthen Government’s efforts in promoting the development of the adolescent girl through collective efforts.
The Task Force met on Thursday at State House Nakasero, to assess the progress on the implementation of the National Multi-Sectoral Coordination Framework on the Adolescent Girl and to agree on a direction for the future.
The Framework was launched by the National Champion for the Adolescent Girl, First Lady Janet Museveni, in 2018. It exhibits Government of Uganda’s commitment and efforts on investing in adolescence as the second decade of life and how government ministries will coordinate to deliver a package of services in line with their mandates in order to deliver sustainable results for adolescent girls.
The Meeting chaired by First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Mrs. Janet Museveni was attended by the State Minister for Environment Mary Goretti Kitutu, the Irish Ambassador to Uganda H.E William Carlos, Permanent Secretaries of different Ministries, the Director of Public Prosecutions Justice Mike Chibita, plus representatives from the UN family and Civil Society Organizations.
Mrs. Janet Museveni commended the work being done by the national task force, the Government sectors and partners in development to strengthen and harmonise interventions for the adolescent girl and to enhance collaboration and coordination for more effective programmes for this target group.
She said, “Globally, the young people are having a tough time growing up in these days. All children have problems of managing alone; there are issues like girls getting raped, being sexually abused or harassed in schools, places around their homes and in towns, though children in Africa have added challenges because the majority of our population are still illiterate, poor and there are many things they do not manage for their families as they should and therefore the children find themselves at risk”.
She added that it takes governments that care to find a way to fill in these gaps where parents are not doing enough for their children. “We must find a way for governments to stand in the gap and help these young people”, she emphasized.
Mrs. Museveni noted that Uganda has tried in many ways to support families. She cited the work and effort Government invested in fighting HIV\ AIDS in the country and said the same should be done to address issues facing adolescent girls.
“In order to achieve tangible and measurable results for the adolescent girl key outcomes need to be reflected in the national planning documents of the country so that resources are earmarked for this particular cause in the national budget. This will make it possible to focus our efforts as Government and for international partners, including the UN partners, to support these efforts.”
Beat Bisangwa the Executive Director of OAFLA Uganda, which is the programme that coordinates the Adolescent Girl Agenda, emphasized that integrating the issues of the adolescent girls in our planning processes from national level, district levels up to lower local government levels was crucial. She appreciated all the stakeholders and the financial and technical support and also called for pragmatism when advancing the Adolescent Girl Agenda.
James Ebitu, Director of Social Protection in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development reported about the progress of interventions from the Ministries of Education, Health, and Gender Labour and Social Development towards achieving the National Multi-Sectoral Coordination Framework on adolescent girls’ strategic outcomes areas. The outcome areas include reduced HIV infections, reduced prevalence of early pregnancy, reduced morbidity and mortality, reduced violence, reduced sexual and gender-based violence, reduced prevalence of alcohol and substance abuse, and reduced prevalence of child marriages among adolescent girls. Others are increased retention and transition, increased learning achievements for adolescent girls in primary and secondary schools, increased participation of adolescent girls in addressing issues that affect them and increase in number of adolescent girls and young women accessing decent work and earning a fair income.
Sarah Nahalamba represented the National Planning Authority at the meeting and she proposed that a special programme to address Child Marriages and Teenage Pregnancy also be included in the National Development Plan III, in addition to mainstreaming the nine outcome areas of the National Multi-Sectoral Coordination Framework in the sector and local government development plans.
The Irish Ambassador to Uganda H.E. William Carlos advised the stakeholders in championing the Adolescent Girl Agenda to avoid working in parallel lines but the interventions to be integrated together into the existing systems and structures.
The Country Representatives of UNFPA Alain Sibenaler, UNICEF Noreen Prendiville, Plan International Greg Lavender and World Vision’s Simon Manning all pledged to support the cause of promoting adolescent girls.
Permanent Secretaries Diana Atwine (Health), Benjamin Kumumanya (Local Government), Vincent Bagiire Waiswa (ICT and National Guidance), Pius Wakabi (Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries) and Florence Adongo from the Ministry of Water and Environment, plus the representatives from the Justice Law and Order sector highlighted various activities that their respective sectors are implementing to advance the adolescent girl.