On 7th June 2020, NBS television ran a story about the increasing rates of teenage pregnancies in the Busoga region, particularly in Luuka and Kalilo districts. The story indicated that over 60 teenagers between the ages of 14-15 years in Luuka and Kalilo districts were pregnant and likely to miss school when 2nd term re-opens. She Decides Uganda local movement in partnership with Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF), organized a zoom meeting with various implementing partners to shape a way forward and address this challenge. One of the activities that were suggested during the meeting was to organize radio talk shows with various community leaders in order to raise awareness around the effects of teenage pregnancies and child marriages. The radio talk show would also address what role stakeholders can play in preventing and reducing the rate of teenage pregnancies.

The first radio talk show was held on 26th June 2020, on Baba FM from 10:00-11:00 am. Featured guests were; Mr. Tidhomu Lawrence, District Health Educationist of Kallio district, Ms. Kwegemya Mwajuma, Probation Officer of Luka district, Mr. Bagalama Sam, Youth and Key Populations Manager Marie Stopes Uganda and Osundwa Christine, Change Champion at UYAHF. The guest speakers tackled issues around the causes of teenage pregnancies, the role of stakeholders in the prevention of teenage pregnancies, effects associated with teenage pregnancies, and preventive measures for teenage pregnancies.

Guest speakers shared that poverty and economic constraints of most vulnerable families, a lack of comprehensive sex education among adolescents, normalization of teenage pregnancies within the region and peer and social pressure within the community, were some of the main causes of teenage pregnancies. It was discussed that challenging these issues can only be achieved if there is a collaborative effort from everyone within the community to guide and educate both boys and girls about the negative impact of teenage pregnancies. It was concluded that it calls for efforts from all stakeholders; parents, teachers, police, religious and cultural leaders, non-profit and grassroots officials, and local government officials.

The guest speakers also shared more specific preventative measures such as; advocating for the uptake of family planning services by young people, the inclusion of comprehensive sexuality education for those in school and out of school, equipping community peers with SRHR information so that adolescents know where to find the correct information, parents supervising their children so that they may be guided towards healthy and communicative relationships and have role models within the communities that emphasize gender equality and educational attainment and enjoyment. Although women-led initiatives may be the most successful, it was concluded that this challenge for girls is everyone’s responsibility as we all share in its impacts.

An end to teenage pregnancies means less money spent on post-abortion services, reduced maternal deaths, higher numbers of girls completing their education, improved population productivity, healthier relationships, and bodily autonomy, reduced risk of gender-based violence later in life and most importantly, greater autonomy, quality of life and happiness for girls.