In a bid to ensure meaningful participation and young people’s support towards the Power to Youth (PTY) program through their quarterly work plans, the Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) convened the PTY Youth Advisory Group 1st Quarterly meeting on April 18, 2024, for the advocates to share progress and key achievements from the previous work plan.

The meeting brought together 15 YAG participants across the program’s five districts of implementation who shared their key implementation outcomes from the previous quarter, including challenges and lessons learned. 

While officially opening the meeting, Joyce Nakato, the UYAHF team leader, and the PTY Uganda Country Management Team (CMT) urged the advocates to be exemplary and represent the objectives of the program as they perform their roles in their respective communities. She encouraged them to use their capacities as trained advocates to drive change and push for local policies that directly address the issues of young people in their respective districts and sub-counties. “This meeting is an opportunity to reflect on our achievements, address challenges, and renew our commitment to effecting positive change in our communities,” she noted

The advocates from each district presented updates on their 2024 quarterly activities, including youth dialogues on the elimination of harmful practices, the establishment of functional health youth clubs in primary and secondary schools, radio talk shows on various SRH topics, including teenage pregnancy prevention and access to SGBV services, safe sex practices, incorporating SRH into village youth savings, skilling associations, and community sensitization sports events in Kalangala. Sanyu Alice, a youth advocate from Busia, noted that they continue to engage and push the district council to speed up the enactment of the bi-law on “disco matanga,” a harmful cultural practice that has significantly contributed to high rates of sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, and child marriages in Busia district. “We put up youth-friendly corners in our communities, like at health centres, where young people can meet and discuss issues that affect them in their daily lives,” Moreen, a youth advocate from Kalangala, stated.

The youth advocates were taken through a Gender Transformative Approach session led by Norah Nakyegera, the UYAHF Advocacy and Campaign Officer. They kicked off the session by watching a video defining GTA, its target, and its components. This was followed by a questionnaire exercise to highlight the privileges that society gives to certain people while putting another group at a disadvantage. “The world and society put some people at a disadvantage right from the start, and it cannot be avoided, What we can do is try to ensure equality at all levels,” Norah concluded.

Additionally, the advocates were also taken through a session on improved visibility and functionality of the Youth Advisory Group in their respective districts, like grassroots mobilization campaigns, exploring creative avenues to increase visibility, engaging stakeholders, and linkages between YAGs in different districts to share information and ideas, among others. At the close of the one-day meeting, the youth advocates from each district discussed together and made new work plans for the 2nd quarter, where they came up with activities including clear and smart objectives, such as school outreaches, sports events, community health camps, and flash mobs around various PTY issues to be implemented in their communities.

With renewed energy, youth advocates departed with a sense of empowerment and determination to spearhead transformative initiatives in their communities. “Power to Youth is not just a statement; it is a call to action. So, let’s go out there and work,” Ruth Apadet, youth advocate, – Mbale.