UNGEI Uganda youth consultation meeting

On September 3rd and 4th, TMF had 2 mentees from Nebbi district join fellow youth leaders from other CSO’s for a consultation on UNGEI’s forthcoming Youth Engagement Strategy. The two-day consultation brought together over 20 youth from a variety of backgrounds to discuss how UNGEI can better include young people in its work to ensure all girls, especially the most marginalized, access and complete a quality education. The youth leaders were from secondary schools, universities, national youth organizations including the Ugandan Youth Coalition and National Youth Council participated on behalf of their networks.  The UN Global Education First Initiative’s Youth Advocacy Group was also represented. The consultation provided an opportunity for youth to input into UNGEI’s first youth engagement strategy and to identify girls’ education priorities for UNGEI’s partner organizations working in Uganda.  The participants discussed areas of youth participation at the international, national and district levels and across areas of society including government, communities, schools, the workforce and religious and cultural organizations. This youth fora was participatory, participants brainstormed strategies for youth engagement across areas of UNGEI’s work such as how to increase youth participation in research and advocacy efforts, and in UNGEI’s governance structure itself. They learned how to engage themselves as leaders and also bring fellow youth on board.

TMF co founder Joyce Atimango speaks on girls education and health in Uganda
TMF co founder Joyce Atimango speaks on girls education and health in Uganda

This meeting had UNGEI Uganda members from UNICEF (the convener), Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Sports (Committee chair), FAWE Uganda (co- chair), Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation, Leonard Cheshire Disability and Plan Uganda. Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development also attended the meeting. This in-person consultation youth meeting was the final stage of a six-month process to design UNGEI’s first youth engagement strategy. It follows a literature review of best practices for youth engagement in institutions and processes, an online consultation with youth on participation that gathered approximately 400 entries, and interviews with member organizations of UNGEI’s Global Advisory Committee (GAC) on their approaches to youth engagement and inputs on an initiative-wide strategy. The final strategy will be presented to the GAC at its annual meeting in mid-November.

UNGEI youth consultation meeting participants in Kampala- Uganda (September 2015)
UNGEI youth consultation meeting participants in Kampala- Uganda (September 2015)

At TMF, the 2 youth leaders seriously took on the action points at the meeting that when they returned back to Nebbi. Brenda is the head prefect at her school and youth representative for education at Panyango sub county level and Anna is the youth representative for education at parish level.

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Brenda (TMF mentee)

Anyimcol Anna 17years old, C/p Trailblazers mentoring foundation giving a presentation during a two-day, UN Girls’ Education Initiative Youth consultation where Ugandan youth leaders were engaged in UNGEI’s first youth inter-face strategy and education priorities to influence the UN Girls’ Education Initiative’s. UNICEF Uganda in partnership with Ministry of Education Science Technology and Sports and FAWE Uganda brought together approximately 20 youth participants representing the National Youth Council, Uganda National Students Association & the Youth Coalition Council. Youth with Disabilities, young women and young men, youth working on various aspects of education including crisis affected, the most marginalized targeting upper secondary or university students as well. In Uganda, the UNGEI partnership has been very successful at working with the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, development partners, districts and Civil Society Organizations and the schools to improve equitable access to quality education. The youth engagement is to serve as an opportunity to influence UNGEI Uganda’s ongoing strategic planning process for the next 5 years. 4th –Sept –2015. ©UNICEF/Stephen Wandera/ KAMPALA UGANDA.

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GIRLS VOICES INITIATIVE/ LET GIRLS LEAD launched in Uganda

Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation (TMF) is thrilled to share with you about the launch of the Let Girls Lead/ Girls Voices Initiative in Uganda (LGL/GVI). The program run from 1st – 4th May 2015 at Silver Springs Hotel involving 35 adolescent girl leaders and 20 chaperons from 20 Civil Society Organizations. From TMF we had Lucy -17 years and Sanyu Kimberly -15 years represent the countless girls we work with.

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Girl leaders from TMF- Sanyu and Lucy

Let Girls Lead is building a global movement of champions to change systems and empower girls to attend school, stay healthy, escape poverty, and overcome violence. Since 2009, Let Girls Lead’s model – endorsed, validated and funded by leading benchmarking organizations – has contributed to better health, education, livelihoods, and rights for more than 7 million girls globally. LGL strives to empower girls and their allies to change the world! alongside their champions the team focused on key sessions covering Advocacy, Human Rights, UN structure, the Girl Declaration and the Post 2015 process. Session facilitators guided on issues to do with social change through laws and policies, gender responsive programming, and protecting girls from violence to ensure that girls’ access quality healthcare, education, and economic opportunity.

Girls identified issues which affect girls, came up with recommendations, shared their life stories and attended sessions on leadership skills to enable them speak out and advocate for change. Key issues raised by the girls included;

• Ending child marriage in Uganda through girl-led advocacy with support of leaders at all levels
• Promote girls’ health and rights through advocating for increase access to free, friendly and  quality SRH information          and services so adolescents can make informed decissions
• Reduce teen pregnancy by improving young people’s access to comprehensive education,
health services and demand for a policy of school re-entry for adolescent mothers
• Empower Ugandan girls to advocate for child friendly spaces free of sexual harassment

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Girl leaders and chaperons during a session

At Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation, we know that girls have the power to transform their lives, families, communities, and the world. We pledge to support our girl leaders and commit to ensuring that every girl goes to school, has access to information and services whenever they need to and learn skills to better herself and her family out of poverty.

The GVI program had girl leaders present the four key issues to the UN Women Country Representative, UNFPA, UNAIDS , UNICEF, FENU, Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Gender and the media calling upon their support as duty bearers/policy makers/ development partners and allies. Positive feedback was registered as the UN Women representative welcomed the recommendations presented by the girls and pledged to work with and engage adolescent girls at different platforms to ensure that their voices are heard.

Together let’s amplify girls voices…

“Re-entry of Child mothers in School, Making it Happen!”

On 22 July 2014 the first Girl Summit was held co-hosted by the UK Government and UNICEF aimed at mobilizing domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation. The delegation in Uganda Government was led by the Hon. Mary Karooro Okurut, Minister of Gender Labour and Social Development, attended by the Permanent Secretary MGLSD and Civil Society. Uganda was among the different Governments that made commitments by signing the Girl Summit Charter to end FGM, Child and Forced Marriage.

Following the July 2014 summit, DFID Office in Uganda initiated a Post Girl Summit Event in Kampala on 22nd January 2015 which brought together about 100 categories of girls from rural and urban areas into a dialogue to create a platform for the young girls to voice out issues and testify challenges they face including FGM, early pregnancy and child marriages among others. The event coincided with the visit to Uganda of Ms. Joy Hutcheon, the DFID Director General of Programmes from UK who interacted with the girls to understand more deeply the specific challenges faced by the girls an d hear from them.
Dissemination of the Girls’ Summit Charter re-affirmed Uganda’s commitments at the July 2014 and also drew public attention to the problem of FGM, forced and child marriage in Uganda, increased public and media debate on these practices. Three girls from Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation( Anna 18years, Consolate, 15 and Jolly 23 years ) represented the girls from Nebbi district. These girls including other girls from Karamoja, Kampala were fully engaged in this dialogue and they shared testimonies of their experiences in regards to early/teenage pregnancy and child marriages and how this affected her education and future life goals.

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Delegates at the Post Girl Summit

Dissemination of the Post Girls’ Summit to other child mothers in the rural communities
Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation embarked on a strategy of scaling down the post girls’ summit to particularly engage rural girls and develop action points on how best to address the challenges of Early/teenage pregnancy and child/early marriages in her districts of operation. The three girls from Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation led by Anna Anyimuleng were greatly inspired and challenged by the stories of powerful ladies most especially the UNFPA Country representative, the Hon. Mary Karooro Okurut, Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development and other dignitaries and the testimonies from the girls in Kampala and Karamoja. Having been challenged and given hope that they can still rise to their full potential, the child mothers mobilized over 25 child mothers to participate in this dialogue meeting and develop action points .
Two meetings were held at Owiny Primary School in Panyango Sub county and Angal Boys Primary School in Nyaravu Sub county. The child mothers in these communities presented educative songs on dangers of early pregnancy , poems and creative dances. They representatives to the Post Girls’ Summit shared their experiences at the event and inspirations from various powerful ladies and other young girls as well.

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Panyango -peer support meeting for child mothers

Anna, 18 years shared “I met girls like me and women at the Post Girl Summit who helped me be more positive about life and challenged me to go back to school no matter the cost so I can have a bright future for my baby and I
Young mothers make resolutions and Call to action
During the meeting the child mothers resolved the following:
They all decided to return to school in 2015 to complete their education levels. However with lack of school fees ,the goal of school re-entry was farfetched. their major challenge was school fees but because they are very determined to re-turn to school they developed the following strategies
• Each of the girls committed themselves to raise 50,000shs of the 250,000shs of the school fees and meet the registration requirements
• They officially signed up as the first TMF peer support group, as a team they planned to do joint odd jobs to earn money to support their education and their babies (i.e. dig 1 acre of land for 70,000 UGX as a group)
• They also started a saving club where each member was to make weekly contribution of 1000shs to support them during emergencies and support their babies since all the fathers of the children had either abandoned them, denied the pregnancy or where not being responsible
• Use MDD as an advocacy strategy to create awareness about the dangers of teenage pregnancy, early/child marriage to girls’ education , health, social life, family and community at large.
• Carry out businesses as a group to earn during holiday time and enable them pay for their fees as time goes on.
These girls requested for support and asked TMF to reach stakeholders and well wishers s to contribute to their education. They have realized the benefits of education to their lives and family as well.
• The group in Nyaravu sub county started a brick laying project to support their re-entry into school. The chairperson secured land and each girl contributed 5,000 shillings to rent the land.

Contributions by TMF
1. TMF’s contribution to the child mothers in Nyaravur Sub county is water and firewood to help burn the bricks to support the girls return to school at the end of February.
2. Four (4) girls to return to return and start school immediately at Owiny P/S and 1 in Nyaravu S/C. TMF is supporting each of the girls with 90,000 shs ( this covers school fees for the entire year
3. The distance to the proposed school(Panyango SS) is about 4 km, so the girls have to move 8 km per day . TMF team noted that the distance is long so a bicycle fundraising was suggested to help the girls can cover the distance each day.
4. TMF to provide life skills training sessions, mentoring, training child mothers in making re-usable sanitary pads etc during holidays
The girls identified Ms Olama Florence from the LC women council and Ms Atim D. mother to a teenage mother to oversee and supervise their activities in the community.

How you can support child mothers return to school
The child mothers have come to terms with reality on ground, they are now aware that they need to be in school and complete their school to be able to look after their babies and have a better future free from violence, dependance and to have better health. They have embarked on strategies to help them return to school, however they are faced with challenges of school fees, long distance to school, lack of scholastic materials to support their education. They are now working toward making right through getting an education and skills. Surely for such a child, why not support them? We are therefore launching an education fund to support young mothers return to school.

We are confident that this campaign will incite thinking among various stakeholders, help us all appreciate and understand the realities/challenges that these child mothers are going through to support their decision to return to school.

Support this fundraiser by joining us on the 20th -02- 2015 at Emerald Hotel, Bombo road starting at 5:00pm. Together we can make school re-entry for child mothers a reality…