Some of the participants during the group work discussions

The power to You(th) program inception workshop was held for three days from 17th May to 19th May 2021 at Hilton Garden hotel. The three days’ inception meeting was attended to by 19 people (12F and 6Male). The objective of the inception meeting workshop aimed to orient country partners and key stakeholders on the power to youth country program. Specifically, the workshop aimed to;

1.Orient and induct Power to youth Uganda Country partners and key stakeholders on the program’s overall goal and mandate, theory of change, target, and expected results.

2.Discuss and agree on the implementation modalities of Power to Youth Uganda Country program work plan, MEL framework, and budgets.

3.To clarify values of partners in line with the Power to Youth program’s core principles of Southern leadership, Gender inclusion and equality, Meaningful Youth Participation, Partnerships, and Scale.

4.Orient and build the capacity of partners and key stakeholders on Power to Youth’s foundational approaches that inform the program’s theory of change, namely; Gender Transformative approach, Rights-Based approach, Intersectionality, social-ecological model, social norms theory, and feminists’ principals and analysis.

5.Asses Power to Youth country partners to determine strengths and weaknesses for a partner capacity strengthening plan.

Power to You(th) is a brand-new global program that has been approved by the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs to be implemented in seven countries for the next 5 years. These are Uganda, Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, and Indonesia.  Globally the program is coordinated by three partners- Amref Flying Doctors, Rutgers, and Sonke Gender Justice (Sonke), all established organizations with synergetic expertise, geographic footprint, and networks in the global south. This partnership forms a Consortium that believes change starts in communities. To trigger this change, we will strengthen civil society organizations (CSOs) to empower and increase the voice of adolescent girls and young women (AGYW). The program will empower AGYW to increase their agency, claim their rights, address gender inequalities, challenge gender norms and advocate for inclusive decision-making. Our attention will focus on harmful practices, such as Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and child marriage, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and unintended pregnancies. These are persistent ‘key issues’ where little progress has been made in recent years.

Mr. Arison from Sonke Gender Justice in his opening remarks informed the participants that the project was working towards the women’s agenda. The Power to Youth Uganda program is committed to improving the lives and health of AGYW about gender equality and SRHR, notably on ending harmful practices, SGBV, and unintended pregnancies by strengthening the role of men and boys in women’s health and empowerment. During the three days we are going to brainstorm and see how best this program will be implemented for example we need to know what each of the partners brings to the table to ensure proper implementation of the program.

The kick-off session was a virtual call with all the other CMT members from the other countries that will be implementing the PtY program. The session was chaired by Martha and Mercy from SONKE gender justice. Participants set rules to govern the session such as the kick-off session is a safe space and therefore there will be no judgment made around the questions asked or responses made to questions raised, when not speaking microphones should all be muted, only switch on cameras if participants have a stable internet connection. During the session, organizations shared about how their CMT’s were formulated, how the coordination lab can stimulate innovation, how can the program ensure accountability to communities and beneficiaries.  Matha thanked the team for being part of the kick-off session

Mr.Mwesigye Patrick made a presentation around meaningful youth engagement. MYPE is central to our common vision of achieving the outcomes and targets of the (SDGs), and other global development processes like FP2020 goals, and the global strategy for women’s children’s and adolescents’ health, the Beijing platform among others. For us to achieve MYPE in power to the youth, we will need to move beyond the recognition and identification of young people as beneficiaries to engaging them as equal partners in decision making with non-youth stakeholders, or young people are consulted and meaningfully engaged. The principles of MYPE are;

1.Rights-Based- Young people are informed and educated about the rights and empowered to hold duty-bearers accountable for respecting, protecting, and fulfilling these rights.

2.Transparent and informative – Young people are provided with fully accessible age, appropriate information which acknowledges their diversity of experience and promotes and protects their rights to express their views freely. There is a clear and mutual understanding of how young people’s information, skills, and knowledge will be shared, with whom, and for what purpose.

3.Voluntary and free from coercion- Young people must not be coerced into participating in actions or expressing views that are against their beliefs and wishes and must at all times be aware that they can cease involvement in any process at any stage.

The program needs to employ two young people to seat on the CMT and have a young person on the youth advisory board. In the areas where the program will be implemented the team should set up youth grass-root leadership positions and create safe spaces for the women and girls to discuss their issues. These safe spaces should have counselors, peer leaders among others. The activities on the program should be youth-led and ensure that age-appropriate groups which should have the diversity of adolescents and young women.

Mr. Mwesigye concluded his presentation by informing participants that young people have a right to participate on equal terms with non-youth stakeholders on matters which impact their lives.  This includes the development implementation, and monitoring, and evaluation of policies, programs, and initiatives. As the power to youth Uganda, we must commit to ensuring that young people are afforded trust and acceptance in their role in decision making so we may all benefit from true partnerships, opportunities for intergenerational dialogues, and youths’ strengthened ability to tackle issues that currently affect their lives.

Mr. Hassan made a presentation around the PtY Uganda think tank.  Among the innovations, he proposed to have a PtY festival countrywide celebrations which will attract AGYW who have shown extraordinary advocacy efforts. Hold talent expos, hold the dads and daughter’s workshops to enable dads to see the value of their daughters, have the BooksB4Babies approach that aims to keep girls in schools, have mobile technology referrals here we shall develop an app or use UYAHF’s app that they are trying to develop, use comics e.g Ann’s story that is run by UYAHF. Have customized boys-only mentorship camps, have a youth parliament among others.

Presentations of partner budgets and work plans were made by Ms.Nakyegera Norah on behalf of all the partners. In the first year, the partner’s activities will be guided by the baseline survey. Year one will be more on setting the ground, hold the district entry meetings as a team, identify change champions, hold a policy scan, have capacity building pieces of training around GTA and MYP, celebrate the international days, build capacities for partners around GTA and MYP among others.

Mr. Mwesigye making a presentation around  Meaningful participation