The Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Amongi Betty Ongom has called for stronger engagement of cultural and religious leaders in the campaign to end child marriages and teenage pregnancies.
Amongi was speaking during a meeting with the Ambassador of Denmark to Uganda, H.E Signe Winding Albjerg, who paid her a courtesy call at the Ministry headquarters on Thursday 16th February 20223, in Kampala.
According to Ministry of Education and Sports 2020 report, Teenage pregnancy accounts for 22.3% of school dropouts among girls aged between 14 to 18 years.
“15-20% of dropouts for girls in secondary school are triggered by child marriages and teenage pregnancies,” the report noted.
Amongi however noted that the vices of child marriages and teenage pregnancies are being exacerbated under the guise of promoting cultural practices and norms in the different regions of the country.
“We should look at prioritizing sensitization through engaging cultural and religious leaders riding on the back of their influence to support the campaign to end early marriages,” Amongi said.
The Ambassador revealed that the Danish Embassy was in the process of developing the next Country Strategic Framework under which various activities would be incorporated in follow up to the Women, Adolescents and Youths (WAY) Programme.
According to the National Strategy to End Child marriages and teenage pregnancy 2022/23-2026/27 Report, one out of five women in Uganda engage in sexual activity before age 15.
A study by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)of 2021, a total of 354,736 teenage pregnancies were registered in 2020 and a total of 290,219 registered between January and September 2021, implying an average of over 32,000 cases recorded per month.
“Buganda region registered the highest number of teenage pregnancies (31,690), followed by Busoga Region (12,740), Rwenzori (11,660), Lango (11,146) and 8,678 from West Nile,” the study indicated.
According to Amongi, these can be reduced through the engagement of leaders who should render advise to the teenagers, and parents not to forget their primary roles at home.