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Quiin Abenakyo, Miss Uganda 2018/19

During the boot camp for the Miss Uganda pageant is when I came face to face with teenage pregnancy.  I met young pregnant girls; this opened my eyes to the seriousness of this issue. I think the problem of teenage pregnancy is actually bigger on the ground than what is presented in the statistics. 

I have used my platform as Miss Uganda to talk about teenage pregnancy and child marriage. I am working with the Miss Uganda Foundation; we go to schools and talk to young people about teenage pregnancy, child marriage and the importance of staying in school.

I have met very many girls whose lives have touched me.  I am also proud that I have been able to make an impact in some of their lives. Sometimes young people reach out to me and tell me how my interaction with them has helped them make a good decision. In the districts where we have been (Amuru, Yumbe, Adnjumani, Moyo), girls tell me they find it an honor that I was able to go all the way there and talk to them. Through our work with UNFPA we are making a difference, I believe. We are telling girls about their rights and encouraging girls to stay in school. Sharing our stories, has been a wonderful experience for me.  I have been able to inspire young people and also learn from them.

Part of the reason we have high rates of teenage pregnancy and child marriage is that parents have no time to guide children. Correcting this is going to take time but through continuously availing information we can get there. Addressing this issue is not a one-man job. All stakeholders have to play their part. This includes parents, religious and cultural leaders, and teachers.  

My message to young people (especially girls) out there is that they should know their story. If you know your story you know the right path to take. They should not try to live like the people they see on social media because people only reveal a very small portion of their actual life on social media. Young people should also use their talents well and find a way of getting where they want to be. They should also use every opportunity around them, make the right friends and have the right role models to look up to.