News

President Museveni Endorses ‘Let Girls be Girls’ Campaign to Prevent Teenage Pregnancy

1 August 2017
President Museveni speaks with Crystal Tagoola, a pupil of Aga Khan Primary School. Also in photo is Mr. Alain Sibenaler, UNFPA Representative and Ms. Prossy Nakanjako, Communications, Media and External Relations Officer at UNFPA. Photo by Martha Songa/UNFPA

Busia, Uganda - 11th July 2017: President Museveni has asked all Ugandans to join him fight teenage pregnancy. Addressing a crowd of over 10,000 people during World Population Day celebrations at Madibira Primary School grounds in Busia District, the President said that teenage pregnancy is claiming the lives of young girls.

One out of every four teenage girls has had a baby before they reach 19 years old.” President Museveni said. “This is not acceptable because it leads to high maternal mortality, cancer and fistula – a tear of the birth canal because the body is not ready for childbirth.  I ask all Ugandans to join me in ending this shameful problem in our country.”

President Museveni made this call following a request from UNFPA Representative, Mr. Alain Sibenaler, to re-launch the ‘Let Girls be Girls’ campaign to end teenage pregnancy.

Mr. Sibenaler was making remarks during the World Population Day commemoration under the national theme, “strengthening youth competitiveness for sustainable development.”

“Uganda’s youth cannot be competitive with a high and stagnant teenage pregnancy where cultural, social and at times policy barriers hinder their access to accurate, age-appropriate information regarding their sexuality,” said Mr. Sibenaler.

“We therefore humbly request Your Excellency and the First Lady of Uganda to launch a National Campaign that will Let Uganda’s Girls be Girls. A campaign that will have Uganda rally around the importance of preventing teenage pregnancies, of preventing all forms of violence and of preventing infection from HIV.”

The ‘Let Girls be Girls,’ campaign was first launched in 2014 in Butaleja by the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga who advised parents not to surrender the rights of their teenage girls for the small price of paraffin, sugar or salt.

Throughout the 12 months period of the campaign, the issue of teenage pregnancy featured prominently on national agenda. But the problem still persists. According to the recently released Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS, 2016), 25 per cent of teenage girls between age 15 and 18 have already had a baby or are pregnant with their first child.

The request to re-launch the campaign was supported by the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Uganda, H.E. Henk Jan Bakker who cautioned young people to live a heathy life and resist to be put at risk by unplanned pregnancy.

Making reference to a message he had read on a T-shirt: “First Things First, Books Before Babies!” Mr. Bakker said, “Young women have the right to decide when they are ready to marry, have children and the number of children they want to have.”

President Museveni said that he was in agreement with the Ambassador, “Young girls should not produce babies before finishing school.”

World Population Day is commemorated every 11th of July. The global theme for this year was, Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations. In Uganda, the national commemoration was preceded by a series of build-up events including a youth dialogue on sexual and reproductive health; a national dialogue on family planning; the launch of two innovative applications - The Zone and SafePal –to support young people’s access to sexual and reproductive information and services; cancer screening and family planning surgical camps; as well as a workshop for local leaders that was held in Busia, the host district.

 

By Prossy Nakanjako