On the 11th of November 2022, Uganda youth and adolescent health forum with support from the power to youth program convened a consultative workshop for young people on understanding and assessing the performance of the National Strategy to end teenage pregnancy and child marriages
The one-day workshop was organized to assess and increase knowledge on the national strategy to end teenage pregnancies and child marriages in Uganda (2022/23 to 2026/27) among young people, develop a policy brief informed by the key findings from the assessment report, and develop an assessment report inclusive of the recommendations and voices of young people from the 6 (six) power to youth districts (Kampala, Busia, Mbale, Kalangala, Bukwo, and Mbale), among others.
It brought together over 186 participants who joined both physically and virtually, and it was facilitated by Winnie Apio, an SRHR and Gender consultant who led the development of a report and a policy Brief from the findings that will be presented on the national level youth summit on ending teenage pregnancies and child marriages to seek commitments from policymakers.
“This is more of a consultative workshop; we want to know how much young people know about these policies, their say on the applicability and effectiveness of these policies, and how best they think the policies can be put into action to get the intended results of ending teenage pregnancy and child marriages.” Explained Apio Winnie.
The study revealed that a few young people are aware of the policies but still don’t know where to access them. While sharing their views in regard to the strategies, young people pointed out that policies and plans are often too technical and are not simplified or translated to be understood by youth. This often leaves out youth who may be able to participate but are illiterate.
Kiplagat Timothy, a power to youth change champion from Bukwo noted that Key information on policy development and the processes are often left at the national or district level and rarely ever reach out to youth at the grass root level.
In their submission as a way forward, the young people suggested that budget lines at district and national levels should be created to support youth participation in addressing teenage pregnancies and child marriages.
They further called for an urgent need to finalize Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health related policies and strategies noting that these policies offer youth knowledge and legal ground to advocate for their increased participation and for the prevention of teenage pregnancies and child marriages.
The young people also noted that a key determinant of effective and meaningful participation in policy processes is the knowledge and awareness of key government strategies that are addressing SRHR issues and how best to influence them, utilize them and or improve on them. They urged the government and key implementing partners to ensure meaningful youth engagement in the development of the national strategy to end teenage pregnancies and child marriages in Uganda.
They committed to following up on the different government policies and strategies at different levels to ensure their implementation and push for SRHR budgeting at the district level. They also expressed a willingness to understand how bylaws and ordinances are developed in order to support their meaningful participation in ending harmful cultural practices like child marriage.