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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid