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District leaders pledge support for programme to empower women and youth in Northern Uganda

District leaders from eight districts in northern Uganda have made a public pledge to support the implementation of a new programme meant to improve the health of women and young people in the region.

The pledge came as UNFPA joined the Danish Government and Government of Uganda to launch the Women, Adolescents and Youth Rights and Empowerment (WAY) programme at the Arua district Boma Grounds on June 26.

 The five-year programme will enable women and young people among refugee and host communities to live healthy, productive lives and contribute to their communities’ development by strengthening their access to sexual and reproductive health and Gender Based Violence (GBV) prevention services.

It is implemented in the districts of Arua, Yumbe, Moyo, Adjumani, Kitgum, Lamwo, Agago and Amuru, where sexual and reproductive health challenges and high prevalence of Gender based Violence are further complicated by the influx of refugees from South Sudan. According to information from the Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda is host to about 1.4 million refugees, most of them below the age of 18. 

Rallied by the State Minister for Northern Uganda Honourable Grace Kwiyucwiny who presided over the launch event, chairpersons of the eight districts pledged to monitor implementation of the WAY programme and address any bottlenecks that may arise. 

 Speaking at the event, UNFPA Representative Mr. Alain Sibenaler noted that with 78 per cent of Ugandans under the age of 30, targeted and decisive investments in their wellbeing as well as that of women should be a priority. “Investing in women, adolescents and youth is key to realizing the right to health, education, protection, participation and economic inclusion. It improves the productivity of the labour force and builds the foundations for future growth and development,” he said.   

Mr. Sibenaler highlighted programme activities to be undertaken, including awareness creation for social norm change which will be done through local community groups as well as through implementation of Live Your Dream, a multimedia campaign. In addition, strengthening health systems to deliver high quality sexual and reproductive health and rights services as well as engaging young people to develop and implement social change ideas meant to address reproductive health and GBV challenges in their communities will be some of the other key activities.

Mr. Sibenaler expressed gratitude to the government of Denmark for providing resources to the tune of USD 13 million for the implementation of the programme.

The Ambassador of Denmark to Uganda, His Excellency Mogens Pedersen, noted that that the WAY programme will enable women and young people to make informed decisions about their lives. He appealed to community members and district leaders to take keen interest in it and provide feedback so as to enable implementers stay on track and to address issues that may arise during implementation.

The Way programme is implemented by UNFPA and its partners Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, CARE International, Communication for Development Foundation Uganda, Reach a Hand Uganda and Outbox.


By Martha Songa