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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs