Youth driving change for adolescent girls in Uganda

The Ugandan Youth and Adolescent’s Health Forum (UYAHF) is a grassroots youth-led organisation working to improve the lives of adolescents and girls. Patrick Mwesigye is the founder and team leader – he explains their work and why it’s crucial to involve young people.

UYAHF was founded in 2013 as a grassroots youth-led and youth focused advocacy organization, whose overall mandate is to address the health, gender and livelihood needs of young and especially young women and adolescent girls through, empowerment, advocacy and capacity building.

I am convinced that I have a role to play to change the status quo, and I don’t to have a lot of money or influence to bring positive change to society.

To establish UYAHF, I was driven by the zeal to use the little that is within my means to make a difference and bring a smile on the faces of young women and adolescent girls that have for long been rendered vulnerable and have faced devastating health challenges, violence, stigma and discrimination.

I am convinced that I have a role to play to change the status quo, and I don’t to have a lot of money or influence to bring positive change to society.

How does the UYAHF work?

We work with young people and especially young women to address their health, gender and livelihood needs through empowerment, advocacy and capacity building.

Health

Specifically under health, we empower and equip young people in and out of school and especially vulnerable young women and adolescent girls with right and correct information on the sexual reproductive health and rights.

For example: HIV prevention, use of contraceptives to prevent early and unwanted pregnancy, educating and empowering young mothers on the basic principles of maternal, newborn and child health like antenatal care, health facility deliveries, family planning, exclusive breast feeding, nutrition for the mother and her baby, EMTCT, routine immunization, postnatal care, and broader child health among others. Under health we also work with young people on breaking the stigma and taboos that surround menstruation through menstruation awareness and advocating for menstruation that is hygienic, safe, and with dignity.

Gender

Under our gender program, we work with young people and communities by empowering them with knowledge and skill required to prevent and advocate against gender and sexual based violence, child marriages and other various forms of negative and harmful cultural practices life FGM.

Livelihoods

Under our youth livelihood program, we aim at empowering and equipping young women and adolescents with practical entrepreneurship and innovative skills, like tailoring/fashion and design, Today we have a running workshop where young women are engaged in production of items like sanitary pads, bags, outfits, African sandals among others.

Connecting young people

My organization UYAHF is also the coordination entity for the AfriYAN Uganda Chapter which is a network of about 20 plus youth held and youth serving organizations. I have the pleasure to chair the AfriYAN Uganda Chapter, and serve as the Vice President of AfriYAN in East and Southern Africa.

Why youth-led?

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The value of being youth-led is the fact that you use your youth to be at the top of things. Most importantly youth led initiatives provide an opportunity for young people to meaningfully engage in decision making, challenging them to take lead without necessarily being told to do so.

Young people are passionate, they are energetic, enthusiastic and they have the zeal to drive and make things happen.

If well empowered, meaningfully engaged, properly directed and strategically supported, young people can bring forth the desired positive change that would guarantee a peaceful and equal world that would guarantee equality and wellbeing for the less fortunate and most marginalized.

You can find out more about UYAHF on their website, on Twitter at @UYAHF and on their Facebook page.  

You can hear more from Patrick on his blog at https://patrickmwesigye.wordpress.com/ or follow him on Facebook and Twitter at @Patsewa.