Author: Girl Up Initiative Uganda

How Music and Theatre are Educating Young People in Uganda

Last Wednesday (March 8) marked International Women’s Day. The energy and effort within the women’s rights movement has clearly not slowed down from 2016. Events like the Women’s March on Washington (and the ripple effect that that has caused worldwide) as well as the consequent A Day Without a Woman campaign have showcased the creativity and inspiration that emerges when women come together to express their views on what they believe to be right and just. Girl Up Initiative Uganda (GUIU) has been working to set the stage in Uganda for spreading messages on sexual and reproductive rights and health (SRHR) and gender-based violence (GBV) through creative means – music, dance, and drama. The initiative proves that the performing arts are an effective medium of ‘edutainment’ – challenging gender norms and creating spaces to discuss sensitive topics. As a community-centered organization, it made sense for GUIU to partner with Plan International Uganda for a youth-focused program called Ni-Yetu (translating to It Is Ours in Swahili) – operating in five districts of Uganda. In Kampala, Ni-Yetu has introduced two activities to spread messages on SRHR …

Girl Up Initiative Uganda and the SDGs: Youth Perspectives

During the 71st United Nations General Assembly last month in New York City, gender equality and women’s empowerment was a key topic – highlighted in Ban-Ki Moon’s in his opening remarks. Unfortunately, Girl Up Initiative Uganda (GUIU) could not represent the interests of our women and girls in-person this time around. However, we can still highlight the opinions of some of our young women staff members who are dedicated to the UN’s mission vis-a-vis the sustainable development goals (SDGs), which the world’s decision makers are committed to achieving by 2030. “I am proud to call myself a feminist.”- Ban- Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations Gender parity is central to creating a more equitable world. Three of the Global Goals dedicated to this are core to our main activities and mission statement. As a young women-run organization, we prepare girls for the unique challenges they will ultimately face, and position them to be able to create action-based solutions. We also focus on building the capacity of our youth staff members, particularly to learn about global policies such as the …

Failures in Finance: Lessons Learned in Micro-lending and Savings

The theme for International Women’s Day this year is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. Part of this is based on the notion of accelerating ‘gender parity’ – defined by UNICEF as the difference between males and females in terms of access to education, and consequently, economic opportunity. At Girl Up Initiative Uganda (GUIU), we focus on these two primary aspects of development work, which we believe are the pillars of gender equality. The latter is of particular importance for young women, who upon securing economic independence gain the ability to participate in society and can avoid financial reliance on men. The need for financial and skills-based support was brought forward to GUIU by the women themselves, and this has attributed to the growing success of the programs – but not without some mistakes along the way. These were nevertheless, failures GUIU had an opportunity to learn from. What are the issues?   Women’s financial access and inclusion as a tool to alleviate poverty has long been a hot topic, and at the heart of micro-lending, micro-credit, and group savings. GUIU is no stranger to the …

7 Myths About Early Sex and Pregnancy Among Adolescent Girls

When it comes to family planning, adolescent girls need youth-friendly services and information to make smart choices! It is critical that myths and misinformation are debunked so that girls can avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS, STIs, and complications from early pregnancy which can lead to future health complications, unsafe abortions, and maternal and infant death. Girl Up Initiative Uganda is working with our SRHR specialist, a young Ugandan woman herself, to ensure girls in Uganda have the opportunity to access comprehensive sexual health education. As addressed in a previous blog post, Uganda has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy.  What Girl Up Initiative Uganda (GUIU) found during one of our sexual health education training sessions with our girls, was that there are many harmful myths surrounding SRHR information especially when it came to their knowledge about early sex and pregnancy. This confusion needed clarification! Based on questions and comments by our girls, here are some common SRHR myths held by adolescent girls in Uganda and our answers: If I have sex while standing I won’t …

What is the ‘Right’ Age to Talk to Girls About Safe Sex?

World Contraception Day was at the end of September, which many people were simply unaware of. This is particularly the case in communities like the Luzira slum area of Kampala, where there are high rates of early pregnancy, maternal mortality, unsafe abortions, and HIV/STI infection stemming from unprotected sex and lack of education and services related to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), especially for adolescent girls. But in a highly religious and conservative country like Uganda, when is the right time to start talking to girls about how to protect themselves, while acknowledging that abstinence is the most effective option? To give a bigger picture, WHO defines adolescents as ‘young people between the ages of 10 – 19 years’, which is synonymous with ‘teenager’, a person aged from 13 – 19 years. According to a 2011 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS), 24% of all teenagers in Uganda are either pregnant or have already given birth, and more than one in three never – married women aged 15–24 have had sex. This has implications not only for a young mother and her children, but on a …

Musings of a Global Feminist

Different kinds of oppression exist around the world, but for this post I will focus on gender oppression in sub-Saharan Africa and the US. Being a woman often times leaves one at a disadvantage, no matter where one lives in both these places. The US happens to be a place where people are quickly placed into categories — through stereotypes and generalizations– and I have come to learn that being a woman of color adds a layer of complexity which exposes one to additional forms and degrees of discrimination. That said, women and girls have more freedom and opportunities in the US as compared to many , countries worldwide.  Exposure to these opportunities is part of what motivated me to join a team of global feminists based in Uganda and around the world, working tirelessly to fight for girls who do not have the kinds of opportunities they need and deserve in order flourish in life. Coming to the US from Zimbabwe opened my eyes in a lot of ways. In my opinion, the liberties women …

Measuring Impact on Girls’ Lives

NGOs around the world are conducting a variety of interventions to improve the well-being of vulnerable women and girls. However, without assessing and analyzing the impact on the target population there is no way of proving program effectiveness. Recently, impact measuring has been gaining traction amongst researchers, NGOs, and funders, as a way to gauge whether or not programs are producing positive results by changing the status quo, and if so, by how much. In an interview with Forbes, Marc J. Epstein, co-author of the book Measuring and Improving Social Impacts: A Guide for Nonprofits, Companies, and Impact Investors noted that there is an increased interest among donors for greater accountability for their grants. Coupled with a need for internal monitoring and evaluation, impact measuring is critical to the success of any organization. Girl Up Initiative Uganda (GUIU) understands the value of developing impact measuring tools, and is working on collecting accurate data on how its holistic educational program has impacted the lives of adolescent girls with both quantitative and qualitative data. The organization seeks information that reaches beyond basic data — such as how many schools …

Increasing Women’s Access to Investment Capital

Worldwide, women make enormous contributions to the economies around them. However, these contributions often go unseen, unrewarded, or stifled, because of the unequal opportunities that exist between men and women. If given access to the financial resources and services necessary to flourish as successful entrepreneurs, together, women could lift themselves out of poverty, support their families, and help their communities to thrive. Studies have consistently shown that when women are economically independent and engaged in income-generating activities, they can provide more opportunities for their children—such as a chance to get an education and receive proper healthcare, as well as being in a better position to take on more of a decision-making role in the family. By securing economic autonomy, women can also prevent some of the interconnected challenges such as such a gender-based violence, early pregnancy, and exposure to STIs and HIV. Investing in women is investing in an entire community, and one of the ways to achieve this is to provide them with tangible means to economically empower themselves. Girl Up Initiative Uganda recognizes …