The state minister for defense and veteran affairs, honorable Aleru Huda, has called upon development partners and district officials to intensify and rally efforts in the fight against the rampant cases of gender-based violence in the district.

Hon Aleru, who also doubles as the area woman member of parliament, noted that Yumbe district is grappling with high rates of sexual and gender-based violence driven by restrictive cultural norms and increased drug abuse among the youth.

She made the remarks while officially opening the Live Your Dream Youth Camp Yumbe on August 29, 2022, organized by the Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF) and Yumbe district local government in partnership with Brac Uganda and with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), held at Yumbe secondary school.

The Live Your Dream Youth camp Yumbe was organized under the theme “Leaving No Young Person Behind: Positioning Young People in the Fight for Gender Equality, SRHR, Life Skills Enhancement, Drug, and Substance abuse Mitigation, and Leadership,” and it brought together 120 young people, including adolescent girls and young women, young mothers, boys and young fathers, refugee girls, and peer educators among others.

The camp aims to provide a platform for young people across Yumbe especially in rural and vulnerable communities to stand up and speak out against all forms of violence against women and girls, oppression, discrimination, and the negative stereotypes which undermine their rights and expose them to teenage pregnancies, child marriages, sexual and gender-based violence, complications related to pregnancies and childbirth, school dropouts among other challenges.

“Yumbe is among the districts with the highest cases of teenage pregnancies because the people still practice negative cultural practices of forcing girls to sex and marrying off young pregnant girls instead of taking them back to school”

The minister further noted that young boys in the district are highly engaged in dubious practices of drug abuse and violence instead of involving themselves in economically viable activities like agriculture despite the government’s interventions with youth livelihood programs.

“I urged you, the youth, to take advantage of this youth camp to learn and use the knowledge acquired to enable you to make informed decisions and become change-makers in your respective communities,” the minister encouraged.

The camp commenced with a number of educational topics including; key drivers and underlying factors for teenage pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, child marriages, and SGBV. The camp was more participatory and engaging as young people held several open discussion sessions on the topics that were presented.

Throughout the camp, the young people were also involved in team building and extracurricular activities, including both indoor and outdoor games like ludo, chase, football, and netball, and experience sharing on the importance of volunteering to a young person.