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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development 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.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid