Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF) in partnership with Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU) and the Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI) under the Power to Youth Uganda program, conducted 10 (ten) school outreaches to dispel Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) related myths, misconceptions as well challenge existing barriers and social norms that promote Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and harmful practices.

The outreaches were mobilized and conducted separately by the PTY Youth Champions and Technical Working Groups (TWG) between Monday, September 12 and Friday, September 30, 2022, in several schools within the five PTY districts, including Busibembe Primary School and Brian Trust Secondary School in Busia; Kibanga Primary School and Bishop Dunstan Nsubuga Secondary School in Kalangala; Amanang Secondary School and Border College in Bukwo; Yoweri Museveni Primary School and Nkoma Secondary School in Mbale; Juru Primary School and Isingiro Secondary School in Isingiro Secondary School in Isingiro District

More than 500 students and pupils, including 362 boys and 200 girls, were reached and informed about crucial SRHR issues to increase their demand for services, shared the various SRH myths and misconceptions, increased awareness among adolescent girls and young people about the gravity of teenage pregnancy, child marriage, FGM, and sexual violence issues, including how to prevent and manage these challenges, and provided accurate SRHR information to adolescent

Students of Amanag secondary school in Bukwo district actvively partcipate during the school outreach organised by UYAHF, under the Power To Youth Program

During the outreaches in Bukwo, the youth champions, students, and pupils collectively developed key informative advocacy messages on ending harmful practices like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriages, which, with the support of the senior women teachers, are to be included as talking compounds within the schools.

“Many young people lack information, We realized that only speaking to them may not be enough, so together with them and with support from the senior woman teacher, we came up with brief but educative messages to be put as talking compounds around the schools as reminders to them on some of the key SRHR issues.” Diana Chepjumba, Youth Champion.

In Busia district, the team held a dialogue on discussions around SGBV, what causes it, how it affects the victims and survivors and how some of the existing social norms and values contribute to SGBV in the community. While the Kalangala team conducted focus group discussions on ending teenage pregnancies and re-entry into schools for teenage mothers and fathers.

“The outreaches were very engaging and fruitful. We worked together with some health workers who mainly supported us in the technical areas of SRH. They facilitated sessions on available free SRH services, provided counselling, shared information on the available youth friendly services at the facilities as well as opportunities in the youth corners” Martha, Youth champion.

“We have youth corners at the facilities, however, some of you do not want to utilize them.” Youth think that if you are seen at the health facility, then people will think you are pregnant, but I want to tell you that” Ruth Apio, a health worker in Busia, commented while at Busibembe Primary School, Buyanga Sub-County.

To address issues of menstruation with dignity, the youth champions in Kalangala district also distributed menstrual hygiene commodities like sanitary towels to the students at Bishop Dunstan Nsubuga Seconday School.

“Many of us girls miss school during our menstruation.” Some miss due to a lack of sanitary pads to keep us clean during the period, while others miss due to menstrual pain. As student representative, I honestly appreciate this support” said Namutebi Joan, a senior three student

According to Alosius, a change champion in Kalanaga, they distributed the sanitary pads as a gesture for others in the community to emulate.

Alosius, a youth champion speaks to Students of Bishop Dustan memorial school in Kalangala during the outreach

“Menstruation is a critical element of SRH and we can’t leave it behind.” “We are not able to provide pads to every girl in every month, but you as an individual, business entity, or organization can at least mobilize what you can and support a girl child,” he added.

At the end of the outreaches, existing school clubs were integrated into the activities to ensure sustainability and increased opportunities for the students and pupils to access information, have mentorship and a platform to share experiences.

The Books Before Babies campaign was also introduced as a club that can support young people to focus on their studies and prevent teenage pregnancies.