In the African traditional society, the fireplace was a safe space where elders had deep conversations and passed on knowledge to the young adolescents in the communities. In commemoration of the 16days of activism UYAHF partnered with world bank blog for development to hold a fireside chat where young people freely talked about finding workable solutions to end child marriage in Uganda. The UYAHF programs manager, Apio Winnie in her opening remarks emphasised that the language needs to change as there is nothing like child marriage, and that it all masks child abuse and defilement, and we all need to put an end to this. Every girl deserves the right to enjoy their childhood and live their dreams to the fullest.

Young people gathered around a fire to share ideas on how to end child marriages

During the panel discussion Nafuna Sababina, a survivor of child marriage shared her very emotional story as a young mother and the challenges that come with it. Sababina had little or no knowledge about family planning hence getting pregnant the first time she had sex. The man assured her about his ability to provide for her even when she gets pregnant, but this wasn’t the case. Sababina took it upon herself to empower herself by getting saloon skills which are helping her to survive with her baby although she still needs capital to fully establish herself.

Our team leader and Executive director Patrick Mwesigye re-echoed that child marriage is a long-ignored problem that undermines the dignity of girls and exposes them to Gender Based Violence and this robs them of every opportunity to thrive. He further shared that justice for the survivors of rape and defilement is still a huge challenge and called upon everyone to strengthen accountability for social justice. “It’s very hurtful that violence against women has been normalised in our communities” says Patrick Mwesigye.

Young people giving recommendations and solutions to child marriage at the fireside chat

The young people raised a lot of practical recommendations that will help to put an end to child marriage;
There are many NGOs and CSOs that are working towards ending child marriage, the government should create a supportive legal and policy environment. These should aim and strongly working with the religious and cultural leaders to change cultural norms. There is also a need to strengthen the implementation of laws and polices that prevent child marriages and uphold girls’ rights. Parents need to rise, play their parental roles and guide their children many of the parents putting a lot of their energies in only providing for their children. They need to stand up and protect the rights of their girls. CSOs, NGOs and government need to put mechanisms in place that integrate survivors of child marriages back in society and schools without being stigmatized. Need to strengthen grassroot activism and social movements as its still lurking yet they are our ambassadors.