"“Health centres do not have youth-friendly corners, young people do not have a place to go in case they need SRH information and services.”"Isabirye Yakut, S.3, Buwunga Secondary School.
Few will argue, but music dance and drama are undoubtedly the biggest tool to drive any message to its intended audience and have them consume it. Over time, the goal to provide SRH information and services has pushed us to devise creative ways of communicating SRH to young people and do advocacy around the same.
Leveraging the clout of our cultural icons, we have worked with them to create music that speaks to young people. Adding to that, we have used the power of storytelling with a series, Kyaddala It’s Real to communicate SRH.
Key to communicating, sharing information and providing SRH services is deliberate and consistent inclusion of young people in the processes. Even at the national level, policymakers have to understand how pivotal inclusion of young people is if SRH related policies are to be drawn, passed and implemented.
The SRHR Alliance Week of 2019 in Bugiri District, a 5 day activity event where the Alliance celebrates partners achievements of the year and give back to communities through SRH service the Alliance Partners provide SRH information and services to communities, young people took center stage in advocating for their SRHR. The theme of the 2019 Alliance Week, “Bridging the gap to ending early marriages and teenage pregnancies.” On the opening day of the Alliance Week, schools and individuals were given a platform to showcase their talents in music, dance and drama that spoke to the theme and compete to win prizes.
The judges of the competition were looking at general presentation, movements, clarity in terms of the message and how it relates to the theme. Furthermore, they were keenly looking at confidence in understanding the concept from the performers, the depth of the message, causes and dangers, interlink with other vices and consequences of teenage pregnancy and early marriage.
The crowds if not left in rapturous applause, would visibly left saddened by the message the acts were putting out. Young people were able to express the different health challenges they face in schools, the plight of the girl child, and painted the horrific picture of teenage pregnancy and early marriage and its devastating effects. Inspired, many participants affirmed when asked to fighting this cancer that is eating up Uganda.
According to a UNICEF report of 2017, Uganda has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Sub-Saharan Africa with over 25% pregnancies among teenagers registered every year. The realities of child marriages are also evident and they continue to undermine girls’ development and attainment of their full potential in all capability.
Young people across the country continue to face a lot of SRH and Rights challenges. Provision of SRH information and services to young people while involving key stakeholders goes a long way in addressing these challenges.
“Health centres do not have youth-friendly corners, young people do not have a place to go in case they need SRH information and services.” Isabirye Yakut, S.3, Buwunga Secondary School.
Yakut won an award for his exceptional performance as a drunkard father who ignored his responsibility as a parent to send her daughter to school with plans that he would marry her off in exchange for material wealth.
Many of the poems, creative dances, drama acts and original songs that had been composed and performed by the young people resonated with the discussion that had been had at the 5th Annual Intergeneration Dialogues. Young people voiced concerns about the lack of health facilities in schools, menstrual hygiene management, zero information about sexuality education, teenage pregnancies, STIs and UTIs.
The use of arts and storytelling, music, dance and drama clearly awakened the mindset of many revealers to the SRH issues that affect young people. The performances became an advocacy call to all stakeholders to take the mantle in fighting the SRH and Rights challenges that affect young people. Over 100 LC1s and LC3s signed and committed to working tirelessly to end child marriage and teenage pregnancies.