News / Africa

Uganda Wakes Up to Plight of Adolescent Girls

FILE- A girl prepares to lift a jerry can of water onto her head in the village of Loro in the Oyam district of northern Uganda.
FILE- A girl prepares to lift a jerry can of water onto her head in the village of Loro in the Oyam district of northern Uganda.
Uganda has become the first country in the world to institute an Adolescent Girls Vulnerability Index, thus recognizing the unique challenges that teenage girls face and their effect on society as a whole.  The index could help with policy making.

Earlier this month the Ugandan government and UNICEF released a study providing a rare glimpse into an issue largely ignored by the development community.

The Adolescent Girls Vulnerability Index, the first of its kind in the world, measured the difficulties girls faced between the ages of 10 and 19, when their needs and challenges started to differ dramatically from those of boys.

The index found that more than 20 percent of Uganda's adolescent girls had "extreme vulnerability."  UNICEF’s David Stewart said the demographics of the country made it urgent to address the needs of this underserved group.

“Uganda’s going through a sort of youth bulge.  A very high proportion of the population is going to be young, and of productive age.  One of Uganda’s ambitions is to achieve middle-income status by 2040, but to do that, I think the country really needs to unleash the potential of adolescent girls,” he said.

He said a survey of social programs in Uganda found that very little was being done at the moment to help young adolescents.

“There tends to be a focus on younger children, and then on youth.  But this 10-14 year age group, which is such a crucial part of an adolescent girl’s life, often doesn’t receive the focus that it should.  It sort of gets lost between childhood and youth,” said Stewart.

The index, which will be updated every few years, measured things like education and rates of early marriage and pregnancy, as well as poverty levels.  But it also took into account the situations of older women in the community, who would serve as examples to adolescent girls.

The study revealed dramatic regional differences, with the eastern region of Karamoja faring worst, said Mondo Kyateka, youth development specialist at the Ugandan Ministry of Gender.

He said this information should help in policy-making.

“We are thinking that with this index, it will inform government to say, ‘OK, we are sitting on a time bomb, we need to invest in these children.’  And the gains that are likely to accrue from this investment are likely to be very significant in term of economic growth [and] in terms of social issues,” he said.

Kyateka added, adolescent girls can play a vital role in breaking the cycle of poverty.

“We know that when we empower the girl child, then we are empowering communities.  Then we are addressing a lot of other issues, like issues of nutrition, like issues of early childhood marriages [and] early childhood pregnancy,” he said.

But Vivian Kukunda, who works with the Kampala-based Girl Child Network, pointed out that many of the challenges girls faced came from the boys and men around them.  She said to truly address their problems they had to work with boys as well.

“We are working with them and we are empowering them, but who is empowering the boys?  If they fix the whole issue of the boys it will also help the girls, because they will stop oppressing the girls.  No one is telling them, ‘You need to be a good man, you need to be this and you do that.’ They don’t have that,” said Kukunda.

For the moment, UNICEF has no plans to extend the index to the rest of the world.  But Stewart said for other African countries the data on adolescent girls was already there.  It only needed to be analyzed for the initiative to spread.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ideke suzan from: mukono
October 20, 2013 2:42 AM
the a doloscent girls index is a good idea and hope the government will also put emphasis on this age group,because the rate at which the young girl are getting pregnant is so high. in the health centers this is the age group which is coming for care and yet there are more who remain in the villages.I hope this helps to make a difference .
.


by: sally from: new york
October 18, 2013 12:49 PM
would have been better to use a different photo...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid