The First Lady and Minister for Karamoja Affairs Mrs. Janet Museveni has launched the national campaign on Adolescent Girls with a call on families and the community to stand up and take responsibility of protecting girl children from sexual exploitation and teenage pregnancies.
The launch took place on 12th October 2015 during the celebrations to mark the 2015 International day of the girl child under the theme “The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.”
The celebrations organized by the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development in collaboration with the UN in Uganda and other partners took place at Mukono Zonal Agricultural Research Development Institute Ntawo on Monday 12th October,2015.
Mrs. Janet Museveni, who is also Champion for Adolescent Girls, said the launch of the adolescent girl campaign will remind both fathers and mothers about their duty to the children they bring into the world and their role as the first building blocks in the foundation of these children.
She said the care of a child does not only mean education adding that though education is very important and necessary for all members of the community, it has to come to a child who has been given a wholesome foundation in the formative years by the parents at home.
“We can’t just celebrate the birth of our girl children, we owe them more. In this campaign we want to mobilize the families and communities in Uganda to start talking to their children and addressing issues faced by adolescent girls”, she said.
She pointed out that the maternal mortality problem in Uganda is aggravated by the adolescents who get prematurely pregnant and die when trying to abort, or in child birth because their bodies are not mature enough. She said adolescents also make up the biggest number of school dropouts and those who are not prepared for gainful employment end up bringing up poor families which reinforce the scenario of poverty.
“We can’t only look to government, the UN, NGOs and CSOs. These are our problems, we must talk to ourselves; the families across the country and we must stand up, come together and find real lasting solutions”, she said.
She said the girl children as the future mothers of the country should grow up with dignity, confidence and must be whole.
She also reminded mothers of their responsibility not only to the girl children but also to the boy children who she said should be galvanized to grow up as independent and responsible people.
Mrs. Museveni saluted the NRM Government through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social development for the focus on adolescent girls
The Minister of State for Youth Evelyn Anite Kajik said that 62 % of the girl children in Uganda have their first sexual intercourse by the age of 18 and that they get sexually exploited by older people who have money.
“This is a message to the parents, teachers, and politicians. Let us leave these young girls to be girls, let them go to school and get educated”, she urged calling to all to join hands and fight the vice of sexual exploitation and teenage pregnancies. “Let’s protect our children. The future of Uganda is getting robbed”.
She said it is written in the Bible that our bodies are the Temple of the Lord and therefore implored men and women to desist from soiling these young bodies.
Aine said her Ministry would establish an inter-ministerial task force to look into addressing the challenges being faced by the girl child in the country.
In her remarks, UN Resident Coordinator Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie reported that nearly 3 million women in Uganda today were married by the age of 18, 700,000 teenage girls have either a child or are pregnant. She said Government, Civil Society Organizations, Private Sector, Development Partners and the young people all have a role to play to ensure that Uganda and the world do not suffer from the lost potential of adolescent girls who have a key to creating a sustainable and equitable world.
“Investing in adolescent girls is one of the smartest ways to secure a better and more sustainable future”, she emphasized.
The Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana said a technical team to coordinate the issues of adolescent girl will be established in his ministry to address the challenge of fragmentation and duplication from stakeholders in this campaign.