Exploring the impacts of Gender and social norms on Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights of Out of School adolescent boys and girls.
Youth researchers under the SHE SOARS project presented a petition in commemoration of the Day Of The African Child 2023 under the theme; Rights of Children in a Digital Environment. This research study was conducted from October-December 2022 in the Arua, Terego, & Madi-kollo Districts to gain insights into adolescents’ experiences with (SRHR) and the social norms that hinder them from enjoying it.
The petition was presented at a children’s parliament organised by Madi-Okollo district in West Nile, Uganda. The parliament aimed at empowering children to debate and also voice out the key issues affecting them in the various sub-counties. The parliamentary session involved school-going children from primary and secondary schools, and was chaired by the district speaker of Madi-Okollo District Local Government, Toko Shuaib.
The presentation of the petition revealed that there are several social norms and practices that hinder young people from accessing and benefiting from SRHR services in Madi-Okollo. Some of these include;
- Religious norms which exhibit bias against the use of contraceptives, were highlighted as significant barriers to accessing SRHR services in the communities of Arua, Terego, and Madi-Okollo.
- The discussion of sexual and reproductive health between parents and adolescents remains a taboo in our district.
- Young people also highlighted the lack of availability and affordability of sexual and reproductive health services.
- Misinformation and misconceptions around HIV testing were also identified as hindrances to accessing HIV prevention and treatment services
Upon presentation, the petition was then handed over to the Resident District Commissioner, who then committed to calling an immediate meeting on the health sector working group.
Many young people are dropping out of school, getting pregnant at an early age, making them susceptible to diseasesResident District Commissioner, Madi Okollo District.
He also pledged to forward the petition items to key stakeholders so that young people can enjoy their rights to access SRH services in the fast-growing digital world.
Key to note were recommendations made and these included;
- Children, adolescents and young people need to be supported in order for them to feel confident in raising their voices to duty bearers on issues affecting them.
- There is a need for continuous follow-up by the youth researchers on the actions regarding the petitions and challenges raised by children, adolescents and young people.
About the Day of the African Child.
The Day of The African Child (DAC) is commemorated annually in honour of children who participated in the Soweto Uprising of 1976. In 1991, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU), initiated DAC to honour the memory of the victims and in remembrance of the protester’s courage.
The DAC celebration is also an avenue used to send out information to key gatekeepers and duty bearers on issues that affect children, adolescents and young people in enjoying their sexual reproductive health rights and achieving their aspirations within their communities.