Hon. Jessica Nsungwa, the commissioner for maternal and child health (MCH), Ministry of Health Uganda, has called upon development partners and advocates working towards promoting sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR) and gender equality to incorporate a mindset change element in their advocacy while implementing projects if they are to challenge the restrictive cultural norms that exist in the communities.
“It is not easy to completely deal with the restrictive cultural norms that exist in the communities where these programs are going to be implemented because these norms have existed for years, even before advocacy work started, and they are already deeply rooted in our communities. We just have to work within them but focus on mindset change, ” said Hon. Jessica Nsungwa.
She made the remarks as the guest of honor during the joint launch of four Care International Uganda projects, including SheSOARS, TOGETHER, STANDUP, and Sexual Health and Reproductive Education (SHARE), which will be funded by Global Affair Canada held on March 30th, 2022, at the Sheraton hotel.
Under the She SOAR project, Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum will work with other partners including Restless Development, Centre for Reproductive Rights, and Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and the implementation will be done in Kampala, Terergo, Arua, and Madi Okollo.
The projects seek to support the Ministry of Health to improve access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services for out-of-school adolescents in rural communities. It will also engage adolescent girls and young women, men and boys, community leaders and norm-setters to understand and transform discriminatory social norms through awareness-raising, and the projects will be implemented across the different regions of Uganda.
Hon. Nsungwa further noted that these programs have come at the right time, a time when there is a need for development partners to discuss and identify solutions to the pressing sexual reproductive health and gender issues affecting young people in the country, especially teenage pregnancy, child marriages, and sexual gender-based violence, among others.
She pledged the full support of the ministry of health and other line ministries towards the success of the project.
“We hope and commit to supporting you as you engage communities and other non-governmental organizations. We will also make sure that we enable the necessary processes for you to implement the project, “she concluded.
While giving the opening remarks at the launch, the country director of Care International Uganda, Mr. Apollo B. Gabazira, noted that good programs have to address the right gaps if they are to have an impact.
“We are also looking at these projects from a rights and economic empowerment lens. We want to do demand creation for sexual reproductive health and rights, “he added.
Conclusively, Gabazira thanked the government of Uganda for providing a conducive environment, the support given by Care Canada, and the funding from Global Affair Canada.