In commemoration of She Decides Day 2022, Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum, in partnership with Marie Stopes Uganda, the Ministry of Health Uganda and other She Decides Uganda Local Movements, organized a hangout fireside chat to celebrate the efforts and progress made towards a Uganda where # SheDecidesHerFuture.
She Decides is a movement committed to organizing people and networks to take collective action by standing up and speaking out for bodily autonomy.
The hangout fireside chat was held on March 4th, 2022 at Skyz Hotel, Naguru as a post-She Decides day event. The event attracted 39 participants, including feminists, She Decides champions, media personalities, young people from refuge settlements, young mothers, and organizations that work around advancing sexual reproductive health and rights, gender equality, and bodily autonomy issues.
During the hangout, She Decides members discussed the challenges that continue to exist, including key barriers that undermine women’s and girls’ dignity, limit their access to essential SRHR services, and expose them to early and unwanted pregnancies, sexual and gender-based violence, and harmful practices.
Among the key presenters who shared their messages of support were Ms. Faith Kyateka from Marie Stopes Uganda, Ms. Hope Nakunda from Raising Teenagers Uganda, Ms. Josephine Lavoy from Planned Parenthood Global, Joshua Thembo from Naguru Teenage Centre, Mr. Hassan Ssekajolo, the CEO of Men Engage Uganda, and Patrick Mwesigye, the team leader of UYAHF.
According to Ms. Faith Kyateka, women’s movements are very key to women’s empowerment in Uganda. Faith called upon everyone to continue with partnerships to ensure support for women and girls.
While sharing her message of support, Ms. Hope Nankunda, the team leader of Raising Teenagers Uganda, noted that working in partnerships is the way to go. She revealed that through the Girls Not Brides partnership, they have been able to reach many girls across the country, especially in the hard-to-reach areas.
She emphasized the need for other partners to reach out to the girls in rural Uganda since that is where the statistics are coming from in terms of teenage pregnancies, among other SRHR challenges.
Joshua Thembo, from Naguru Teenage Centre, noted that boys and men have a role to play in facilitating the well-being of girls. He encouraged advocates to ensure that whenever activities to discuss SRHR challenges are organized, they have to be brought on board so that their capacities are built on how to create safe spaces since they are the perpetrators.
Mr. Hassan Ssekajolo, from Men Engage Uganda, said that as Men Engage Uganda, they work closely with men and boys for the empowerment of women and girls. He also called for a collective effort and the need to write another chapter called, “SHE DECIDES, HE RESPECTS.”
Mr. Patrick Mwesigye, team leader of UYAHF, in his closing remarks called upon partners to organize regular community parliaments and discuss solutions to issues affecting young girls as well as making follow-ups on girls both in school and out of school by involving teachers.
The partners committed to working toward the empowerment of girls and young women so that they can decide their future.
The colorful evening event was a blend of a number of educational elements, including open mic sessions, live performances from local bands, youth acrobat groups, and the sharing of experiences from teenage mothers, among others.