Menstruation Matters: Keeping More Girls In School!!!


20th August 2016 – Kampala Uganda

Compiled by;

Patrick Segawa: Team Leader – Public Health Ambassadors Uganda Patrick Mwesigye: Team Leader – Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum

Menstruation  is  an  integral  and  normal  part  of  human  life,  indeed  of  human  existence.  Menstrual hygiene  is  fundamental  to  the  dignity  and  wellbeing  of  women  and  girls  and  an  important  part  of  the basic  hygiene,  sanitation  and  reproductive  health  services  to  which  every  woman  and  girl  has  a  right. Globally,  approximately  52%  of  the  female  population  (26%  of  the  total  population)  is  of  reproductive age. Most of these women and girls will menstruate each month for between two and seven days.

Menstruation is a natural part of the reproductive cycle, however, in most parts of the world, it remains taboo and is rarely talked about. As a result, the practical challenges of menstrual hygiene are made even more difficult by various socio-cultural factors.

According to Data from the 2015 National Population Census the proportion of females to males as per the national population remains high with about 18,124,684 people being women. 24.5% of these were women adolescents between 10-19 years (4,440,547).

According to the research study in 2014 by SNV entitled “Mapping the Menstrual Hygiene Market in Uganda”, At least 84% of these women are from  rural areas and majority poor and assumed to be unable to (sufficiently) access and/or afford sanitary materials including sanitary towel. According to a study done by UNICEF in 2013, 1 in 10 school girls in Africa miss school or drop out completely due to lack of access to menstrual materials and other sanitary products.

This critical unavailability of sanitary products is a major barrier to education for girls of school-going age. The inability to effectively manage menstruation contributes to absences of up to 4-5 school days each month, equating to as much as 20% of the academic year intentionally skipped, simply due to menstruation. Eventually many of these girls drop out of school entirely, increasing their risk to the likelihood of early initiation to sex with associated risks of HIV, early pregnancy, teenage pregnancy with its associated maternal health complications, and further limiting their future career and economic opportunities.

Other young women mainly from poor backgrounds suffer from virginal and urinary infections as a result of using unhygienic sanitary materials since they are unable to afford or access proper menstrual products. Many women and girls from such poor backgrounds rely on crude, improvised materials like scraps of old clothing, pieces of foam mattress, toilet paper, leaves, and banana fibers to manage their menstruation – all of which are unhygienic, ineffective, and uncomfortable. Such circumstances have continued to deprived young girls and women of their potential to exercise their right to health, education and dignity.

Most schools lack sanitary facilities that have access to washing facilities including clean water points and soap, changing rooms, disposal facilities to Because of  this  inconvenience,  many  girls  opt  to  stay  at  home  during  menses  and  this  has  implications  on  their general academic performance and achievement levels in the different grades/classes.(Crofts 2012).

However, menstruation is also still seen as taboo in many African societies. Cultural practices and taboos around menstruation impact negatively on the lives of women and girls, and reinforce gender inequities and exclusion.

But menstrual hygiene cannot be left to women and girls to discuss in secrecy and isolation. It must be acknowledged as a subject for public discussion. Education regarding menstrual health should be promoted. Furthermore, it’s noted in the same research study by SNV, at least 20% of the teachers interviewed said that there were still restrictive cultural beliefs surrounding menstruation. 28% of girls reported that people around them expect them to restrict their movement during menstruation.

In the Central Region of Uganda, menstruation is referred as “Ensonga” or “the issue”’; but this does not reduce the cultural practices and social myths which make it difficult for both men and women to talk about menstruation.

It’s against this background that Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU)and Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) with support from Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund and Wakiso District Education Department is running a Menstrual Hygiene and Health Management Project dubbed “Ensonga Campaign”  aimed at breaking the silence, stigma and building awareness among boys girls, parents, teachers and communities about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential.

The “Ensonga Campaign” is  contributing to improved Menstrual Hygiene and Health Management (MHHM) among school going adolescent girls through sensitization and creating awareness on how to manage menstruation hygienically and with dignity, highlighting the role of boy, men and parents in ensuring girls enjoy menstruation with dignity by reducing the stigma and discrimination that surrounds menstruation and   improving access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities within primary and secondary schools in Wakiso District.

The campaign has empowered Adolescent girls with MHM information including use of reusable sanitary pads through formation of Sanitation health clubs and installation of sustainable WASH facilities. The project slogan is #MenstruationMatters

The pictures above show PHAU and UYAHF peer educators conducting a school outreach on Menstrual Hygiene at Nansana Church of Uganda Primary School in Wakiso District.

On 4th August 2016, the “Ensonga Campaign” was launched in two selected schools in Wakiso District.  PHAU with partners from UYAHF conducted school outreaches at Nansana Church of Uganda Primary School and Wakiso Secondary School. The entire school was taken through the introductory session about menstruation and puberty before being grouped into Focused Group Discussions (FGDs). The focused group discussions provide a conducive environment for girls to speak and share freely about their views, experiences, opinions and challenges on menstruation; this is followed by Question and Answers session.

“If I skip my periods this month or have them for 3 days then I have them for 5 days next month, am I normal?” asked during FGD

20160810_124946In the pictures above, Girls at Nansana Church of Uganda Primary School demonstrate to fellow pupils on how to dress up a reusable sanitary pad at  one of #Ensonga’s School Out reaches on Menstrual Hygiene.

“Sometimes when I am about to have my periods, I grow pimples then the next cycle I do not have them, I instead have stomach pain, is it normal?” asked during FGD.

13920700_1122224911158192_706276015827172551_n (1)In the pictures above, PHAU and UYAHF Peer educators conducting another school outreach session on menstrual hygiene and management at Wakiso Secondary School.

The students were also sensitized on how to manage cramps, monitoring their cycles using the calendar and the different methods of menstruation management such as the disposable and reusable sanitary pads, towels, tampons, the menstrual cup, cotton and gauze for both boys and girls.


In the pictures above, students engage in participatory learning session at one of the outreach sessions on menstrual hygiene and management at Wakiso secondary school.

“I missed classes for four days when I came back to school I found out that I had missed two topics and I don’t have any one to take me through” Flora –Student, Wakiso Secondary School

Through Pad Demonstration sessions, students received practical sessions on the correct and consistent use of sanitary pads. The boys were encouraged to support girls before, during and after menstruation. The boys were also counseled to stop mocking, insulting, abusing, isolating and laughing at girls during periods, but to support and comfort them through these tough times. The boys were also called on to support #Ensonga Campaign by lobbying parents and school authorities to create and ensure a supportive environment for girls during menstruation.

In the pictures above, Boys at Wakiso secondary school demonstrate to fellow students on how to dress up a sanitary towel during the boys focused group discussion.

“We had never heard anything openly like this about menstruation, but from today we will also tell our fellow girls who are not in the health club about how to be in school during their menstrual period. Scovia – Student, Nansana C/U Primary School

Sanitation health clubs were formed in the respective schools comprising of representatives from the different classes. The clubs members will act as change agents towards adoption of good menstrual hygiene and sanitation practices and advocate for a favorable environment for girls during menstruation . The Senior Women or Senior Men are the patrons for the established school clubs hence they will provide support, guidance and mentorship to the members, while PHAU and UYAHF will continue to provide technical guidance to the clubs.

20160810_134453Sanitation Health Club members from Nansana Church of Uganda Primary School  pause for a group picture with PHAU and UYAHF team.

“Menstruation education should not be left to teachers only. It’s an initiative of mothers to educate their daughters about menstruation hence we need to involve and educate mothers too” – Jackie, Deputy Head Teacher – Nansana C/U Primary School.

A total of 386 students were sensitized on accurate information on Menstrual Hygiene Management with emphasis on reusable pads.

To manage menstruation hygienically, it is essential that women and girls have access to correct and accurate information on menstruation issues as well as access to sanitary wear and proper disposal facilities.

They need somewhere private to change sanitary cloths or pads; clean water for washing their hands and used clothes; and facilities for safely disposing off used materials or a place to dry them if reusable. There is also a need for both men and women, teachers, parents and communities to have greater awareness and information on menstrual hygiene management.

PHAU and UYAHF will continue to conduct routine follow up activities in respective schools to install talking compounds with Menstrual Hygiene Messages to provide an enabling environment for students to discuss more on issues related to menstruation.

To follow the project activities, check out our facebook; UYAHF PHAU Twitter: UYAHF PHAU YouTube: PHAU UYAHF and follow the Hashtags #Ensonga #MenstruationMatters


School Girls Confess, they Avoid School During their Periods. We don’t want to stain our uniforms and get embarrassed before the boys.

Compiled by Patrick Mwesigye

Founder and Team Leader – Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum 

“When I am in my periods, I avoid going to school, because of fear to stain my uniform and get embarassed before the boys” noted Faridah 15 years a Senior 3 student of Kawala College School in Lubaga Division, Kampala Uganda’s Capital.

This was at one of the regular school health outreach conducted by Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health on the 21st of June 2015 at the school.

The school outreach was held under the Girls Health Empowerment and Promotion project whose overall goal is to empower and equip adolescent boys and girls or 12 -24 years with knowledge and skills that effect change in their lives and that of their peers and communities by making informed choices and advocating for promotion and respect of the rights of young people like; the right to health, education, access to quality sexual reproductive health information and services, prevention of gender and sexual based violence, end to all forms of stigma and discrimination, end to teenage pregnancy and child marriages, and increased access to sanitary materials and integrating these in Uganda’s development priorities.

Students and teachers listen in to Paul Webs the UYAHF Program Officer as he makes introductory remarks during the during the session.

The highly interactive outreach session facilitated by the UYAHF project officers brought together over 300 students and their teachers. The focus of the session was on promoting menstrual hygiene and management and breaking the barriers that impend adolescent girls during their periods.

During the session, participants were split into two groups according to their gender to promote privacy and confidentiality and encourage dialogue, participation and opening up by all participants.

Our staff Annah and Paul facilitated the focused group discussions for girls and boys respectively.

The discussions featured core knowledge on menstrual hygiene and management, touching on key issues that ranged from;

  • Puberty and the key changes that happen during this stage for both girls and boys. In an interactive way the participants themselves contributed to the discussions by noting some of these signs below as key signs of puberty, namely; “growth of breasts, growth of pubic hair, getting attracted to the opposite sex , gals starting to menstruate, growing hips, deep voice for men, developing funny smell among other changes.
  • Anatomy; external and internal body part especially the sexual reproductive organs and the description of their functions,
  • Menstrual cycle including the 4 key stages where key events take place i.e; the steps that define menstruation as a continuous process with slow progressions and overlap between stages.

Annah, the UYAHF project officer for the Girls Health Empowerment and Promotion program informed the girls that; there are no “safe days”. It is possible to get pregnant if a woman has sex without contraception at any point during the menstrual cycle because; “The egg may still be inside the womb and does not break, another egg may have already been released as part of the next cycle or Sperms can remain in the womb for 2-3 days.”

She also went ahead to note that; Menstrual blood is the lining of the womb being shed out because fertilization has not taken place. It is not harmful or dangerous, and if the egg is fertilized it implants in the womb lining and this becomes the placenta. It contains proteins and nutrients which help a baby to grow, she added.

Anna also taught the girls about the irregularity in their periods and she noted that; in most cases girls worry about being different from their friends. This is normal she noted, and everybody is different. Some women may start their periods at 8 years while other at 16 but both are healthy.

Ann also went ahead to teach the girls how to I wash their virginal, how often to change a pad and  through a role play by the girls themselves, pad demonstration was done especially for benefit of who have not yet started their periods. These had not only never seen a pad but also didn’t know how it’s used.


Prefects of our Kawala Secondary School pause for a group picture with Paul Webs the UYAHF program Officer after the session. 

The girls in the feedback were inquisitive to know;

Why at times they miss their period or have longer periods than others. Christina 13 years and a Senior 2 student was quoted asking; “ I sometimes miss my periods and my friends have told me that I may be infertile and will never give birth.”.  Mercy 25 years also inquired about the major caused that lead to irregular periods

In her response, Annah noted that; some women and girls have short cycles so it’s possible for them to have more than one period in a given month.

She added that irregular cycles and missed periods are not related to infertility. Women with irregular cycles can conceive and have a baby.

On the Common Causes of Missed Periods/Irregular Cycles she gave the following causes; Emotional stress, Malnutrition, strong physical exercises, Age (the first 5 years from starting her periods and nearing menopause), Pregnancy, Contraceptives which contain hormones (e.g. contraceptive pill, depot injection) among others.

The girls also mentioned and discussed the major challenges they face during menstruation and according to them, these ranged from;

Lack of access sanitary towels. “I don’t have enough money to buy pads and when I ask my mother to buy for me pads she says she doesn’t have money, while I fear to talk to my father about my periods noted Brenda 14 years Senior three students.

Faridah 15 years and a student of Senior 3 also noted that when we go into our periods most of us who can’t afford sanitary pads chose to stay home to avoid staining our uniforms as this embarrasses before the boys who make fun of us all the time.

The girls also noted that the school key facilities for proper sanitation and hygiene. For example,  the school has no private places like bathrooms where the girls can change pads during their periods and freshen up just in case they need to.

The school also lucks proper disposal facilities for these used pads. We throw our used pads in open buckets with no covers  are scantily placed in our toilets which are sometimes used by boys or teachers, noted Magie 16 years, the Health prefect. One of the teachers was also qouted saying that quite often; the school experiences water shortages whic makes life hard for these girls to clean up themselves so generally girls in this school don’t enjoy menstruation at all.

Menstruation Hygine Banner

On the side of the boys, Paul the program Manger at UYAHF and Joshua a Volunteer at UYAHF took the boys trough a series of leanings about what periods mean for girls the stress, pain and trauma they go through.

The seemingly excited boys could not hide their vibrancy in the discussions, despite some being shy and wanting to go around the bush. They boys were concerned about the common cases of girls staining their uniforms and wondered why the girls cannot control this. “It’s shameful for those girls to start bleeding in class and my dad told me it’s taboo,” noted Ashraf 16 years a student of Senior 4.

Henry 16 years a student of Senior 4 noted that girls who stain their uniforms in class, embarrass themselves and we can’t stop to laugh and make fun of them.

Kavuma Allan 19 a senior 6 student was also noted saying that while at home when her sister goes in her periods, their father and mother do not allow ther to cook or serve food since they she is unclean.

Right from the discussions, it was clear that so many myths and misconceptions surround menstruation and render girls stigmatized leaving them in the face of gross discrimination and inequlity during their periods.

Paul told the boys that menstruation is a normal process for all women and girls in the reproductive age and it’s a proper sign of showing that the girl is healthy. He added on that when girls are in their periods or about to start their periods, they undergo pain and emotions; Such pain and emotions could at times include; abdominal and back pain, back and leg pain, headache and breast pain, feeling sad, lonely and angry among others.

With such pain and emotions, Paul noted that girls need to be loved, cared for and comforted to under such hard times. Girls under go this process every month and there is no scientific evidence that has proved that periods make women unclean or less of being human. In actual sense periods make women normal, healthy and active just like the way boys have wet dream and an erection every morning. Paul called on the boys to be brand ambassadors for improved menstrual hygiene and management to support girls go through menstruation with dignity.

In conclusion boys committed to being brand ambassadors for promoting menstruation with dignity while the girls committed to doing all within their means improve hygiene while in their periods and to continue to advocate for access to menstrual hygiene materials and facilities since menstruation with dignity is their right.

Patrick Mwesigye the founder and Team Leader at UYAF in his closing remarks delivered by Paul, noted that UYAHF, a youth led and youth serving organization working in Uganda is committed to working with young people to address their health gender and livelihood needs through; empowerment, advocacy and capacity building with a goal supporting them to fulfill their potential and achieve their drams and feature aspirations. Young

Patrick also noted that it’s the responsibility of all of us to work together and develop interventions that increase efforts to ensure that all adolescents and youth have the knowledge, skills, and opportunities for a healthy and productive life, and enjoyment of all human rights.  Adolescents and youth are diverse and not all face the same risks, constraints, and deprivations. Ensuring their healthy development requires making the health services and system work for adolescents – but also addressing risk factors in the social environment and focusing on factors that are protective across various health outcomes including the enabling legal and policy environment.

Sign now to petition the Prime Minister of Uganda to end teenage pregnancy in Uganda

Compiled By: Patrick Mwesigye

C.E.O Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum

@patsewa /
Did you know Uganda’s Productivity would be $15 billion higher if teenage girls delayed pregnancy until their early twenties, got a skill and worked?
Did you know that 3 out of 10 girls in Uganda drop out of school due to teenage pregnancy related issues?

Did you know that 49% of Ugandan Women are married before their 18th birthday and that teenage pregnancy is highest where child marriages is prevalent?
Did you know that still birth and newborn deaths are 50% higher among infants of teenage mothers than among infants of mothers between the ages of 20 and 29 years?
Having worked with adolescent girls and young women for the last four years, there is no doubt that one of the major obstacle that has for so long deprived adolescent girls of their ability to achieve their potential and realize their dreams is teenage pregnancy. Today, pregnancy and child birth is the leading cause of death among adolescent girls.

In Uganda of all pregnancies that occur annually, 24.6% are teenage pregnancies. Teenage pregnancy has far devastating reproductive, social and economic effects on the lives of communities and families of adolescent girls.
Because of my humanitarian heart and the feel for every adolescent girl, i am signing this petition, calling on the Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda to develop, adopt and commit to financing a Comprehensive Mult- Stakeholder Plan to End Teenage Pregnancies in Uganda.
You too can show us your support by signing the petition here.


Thank you for your support

Adolescent Girls and Boys call for an Enabling Environment that Promotes Menstruation with dignity and Zero stigma and Discrimination.

Kampala Uganda – 14th June 2016

Compiled by: Patrick Mwesigye

Founder and Team Leader – Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum / V. President AfriYAN East and Southern Africa Region.

Email: patsewa@gmail.coM , Twitter: @patsewa

Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) in joint partnership with AfriYAN Uganda Chapter on the 24th of May 2016 held a Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Sessions at the Reach a Hand Uganda, Life in My Shoes Youth Camp held at Hana Mixed School hosted by Reach A Hand Uganda (RAHU).

The Session’s overall goal was aimed at steering discussion and promoting dialogue and learning between adolescent girls and boys on the need to create a supportive environment – for young women and adolescent girls to be able to enjoy and manage their menstruation hygienically, safely, and with dignity and privacy.
The session attended by about 300 young people including teachers and some members of the public raised awareness and empowered participants with information to demystify myths and break the stigma and taboos surrounding menstruation.

Participants listening to Francesca UYAHF Volunteer staff as she made her presentation on Menstruation with Dignity. 

Participants including students and teachers were able to highlight the nature and consequences of poor menstrual hygiene management and they suggested innovative strategies and sustainable solutions to address menstrual hygiene challenges. Annet Nabachwa 16 years and a Senior 4 Student from Hanna mixed noted that, many girls in their school have no access to sanitary material and many resort to using cloths, which is note safe.

Patricia 15 years a Senior 3 student from Nsanji SS, also was quoted saying “We do not have access to safe disposable and washing facilities and hence boys quickly make laughing stalk of us when they see our used sanitary towels”

It’s imperative to note that at the onset of puberty, boys and girls embark on a transitioning journey of growing into adults. During puberty boys and girls will experience many changes ranging from physical, psychological e.t.c and Menstruation is just one of these changes. For many girls, starting menstruation does not mean a girl has become a woman overnight.

Young Men Pause at the Menstrual hygiene Banner to show their solidarity for menstruation with dignity. 

Menstruation is one major common and unique experience identified by many disadvantaged women and girls as a driver of gender inequality and disempowerment as it poses barriers in a woman’s ability to engage in education and decision making.
All women and girls have a right to enjoy their periods with dignity, no shame and none discrimination, noted Paul Weboya the UYAHF program Officer as he facilitated at the session.
Menstruation hygiene is a fundamental right for all women and girls and it has impacts on other multiple human rights of women and girls including; the right to sanitation, education health and employment with dignity.

Menstruation with dignity and non discrimination is a driver and an enabling factor for change as it enables women and girls to achieve their potential and meaningfully engage in discussions that challenge traditional gender roles.

By the end of the sessions young people including opinion leader present like teachers had increased knowledge on the role and the need of good menstrual hygiene management as an enabling factor for women and girls to reach their full potential. Both the students and teachers also committed to support and create an enabling environment for proper menstrual hygiene practices and enjoyment of menstruation with dignity.

Adolescent Mothers in Uganda Commite to Ending Maternal and Child Mortality and Demand for Access to Contraceptives to Cub down Teenage Pregnancy Rates

Compiled By Patrick Mwesigye Founder/ Team Leader – Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum/  Vice President: AfriYAN East and Southern Africa Region

Twitter: @patsewa

Yesterday 11th June 2016, Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum in partnership with AfriYAN Uganda Chapter and the Post Test Club of Naguru Teenage and Information Center and Kiswa HC IV held a very successful Young mother’s Forum on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, that saw about 120 young people turn up to dialogue, share experiences and learn about the key concepts of maternal and child health and other SRHRH issues that are of major concern to young people and make recommendations as well as devise solutions to promoting young people’s health and well-being.


Among the young people present were adolescent mothers, adolescents fathers, adolescent boys and girls at risk of teenage pregnancy and early marriages, adolescent boys and girls who have been victims of sexual and gender based violence and those at risk of SGBV, adolescent living with HIV among others.

The very successful day was filed with lots of fun, laughter, entertainment coupled with music, dance comedy but most importantly, learning, dialogue, sharing experiences and suggesting recommendations that will be presented to the management of Naguru Teenage and Information Center and the Adolescent Health Technical Working Group of the Ministry of Health as well as the MNCH cluster of the Ministry of Health. Here are some of the links to the young people performing at the event;




Sr. Nasuna Hellen a senior Midwife from Naguru teenage center facilitated the dialogue and learning on safe motherhood/ maternal and child health, where she informed participants that many adolescents girls are at high risk of teenage and unwanted pregnancy and this puts their life at risk both during pregnancy, at birth and after child birth. She noted that the major cause of teenage pregnancy is risky sexual behaviors like having unprotected sex which definitely results into pregnancy, failure to use contraceptives, early marriages, increased forms of violence which expose young people to early sexual debuts among others.

She cautioned the young people on the poor health seeking behavior that they have adopted and said that most pregnant adolescent girls fear to come to health facilities for antenatal services yet these services are free and readily avaialble.

Sr. Hellen informed the participants that seeking antenatal services is highly recommended for all pregnant mothers and that this should be done at least four times during pregnancy and that fathers should always encourage and company mother for antenatal.
During antenatal visits, we teach the mothers a lot of things including how a mother must eat while pregnant, what she has to do to ensure good health and safety for both herself and her unborn baby, she added. We also diagnose the mother of various illness like HIV, HPB, Hepatis B, Cancer, Malaria among other things to make sure that we detect any illness and that is likely to affect her and her baby health during pregnancy and we treat it immediately.

Sr. Hellen Nasuna a Senior Midwife from Naguru Teenage Center/ Kiswa Health Center IV making her presentation on Best Safe Motherhood Practices. 

We also provide guidance to young mothers living with HIV, and enroll them on EMTCT to make sure that they stay healthy and they don’t infect their unborn babies with HIV.
At delivery, we make sure that the mother and her newborn receives all the required care that will grantee no risk to death or injury, therefore this should be the major reason why all pregnant young women should deliver at the health facility.
Sr. Hellen also called on mothers to exclusively breastfeed their newborn babies at least for six moths with out any additional food supplements but only breast milk as this is healthy for the baby. She also tought the participants that routine immunization must be done for the child and this is entirely the responsibility of both the mother and father of the newborn to immunize their child against the 6 killer diseases. During antenatal and at birth, the parents are guided by the health worker on how to immunize their child noted, Sr. Hellen.

In their response, the young women pointed out poor attitudes and of health workers who ask unnecessary questions and abuse the mothers. The mothers also pointed out challenge with health facilities which ask them for money to access services yet they are unemployed and broke. Namutebi a mother of one noted that confidentiality is still a challenge highly faced by young mothers as health workers always leak their information to relatives and friends. Bosa, a 16 years teenage boy also noted that ” health workers need to come to our schools to give us information on prevention of HIV, teenage pregnancy and give us counseling”, while Marvis 19 years ad a mother of one blamed violence experienced by young girls as  the major cause of teenage pregnancy.  “We are forced to run away from home because of being mistreated  only to end up with men who lie to us and end up impregnating us. Among the major highlights of the discussions was need to increases young people’s access to contraceptives and breaking the myths and stigma surrounding contraceptives noted Marrow 22 years who is Vice President of the Post Test Club Naguru Teenage Center. More voices on the young women’s perspective on scaling up access to maternal health services can be found on the link here;

In the pictures above, participants are split in focused group discussions while in the picture below, participants listed in to the Midwife as she makes her presentation. 

Mr. Bukenya Dennis the Deputy Director Naguru Teenage Center also called on all pregnant adolescent girls to make it a must to deliver from the health facility with assistance of a qualified health worker. He informed participants that they should deist from the habit of unsafe abortion practices as these expose their lives to danger. On asking participants some of the crude abortion methods commonly used by adolescent girls; participants noted the following; drinking of detergent soap, inserting sticks in the vagina, drinking herbal medicines, drinking a lot of tea leaves among others.

Mr. Dennis noted that, Naguru, teenage center is open to all young people and it provides a wide range of health care services that include antenatal, delivery including; emergency obstetric and newborn care services, postconsonantal care, family planning, HIV services including, prevention services, treatment and care, cancer screening, counselling services, e.t.c. The center also also has a club for young people; the Post Test Club where young people come together to learn and dialogue on issue of their concern and also to advise the center management on improving improving services to young people.


Mr. Dennis Bukenya the Deputy Director Naguru Teenage Center addressing participants at the dialogue


Patrick, Mweigye the Founder and Team Leader Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF), called on participants, to use their teenage age to invest in their future. He said, that, Young people are full of potential and can do incredible staff, especially if they are healthy, free from disease, injury and violence. He called on young people present to abstain from Sex and concentrate on school and finishing their education. For the sexually active young people, he emphasized the need to avoid risky sexual behaviors like; unprotected sex, multiple sexual partners, cross generational sex, commercial sex work among others. He called on them to use condoms correctly and consistently and always ensure to stalk enough of them such that they are available at the times of need. Patrick also told sexually active young women, to always use contraceptives to be able to avoid pregnancy. He however, encouraged young women, to always seek medical advise on the right contraceptive method to use.

He called on the government of Uganda to invest in health and welling of young people to ensure that they are healthy and free from violence, educated, skilled and can find a job. In his conclusion, he noted that Uganda has an opportunity to benefit from its population demographics by harness the demographic dividend and investing in its young people through reducing fertility, supporting girl child education, increasing access to contraceptives, empowering women and girls and reducing their risk to all form of violence, skilling young people with entrepreneurship and innovative skills to engage in job creation among others.

He said that Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum is committed to amplifying the voices of young people and will continue to build their capacity to advocate for, hold accountable and demand from duty bearers; access to quality youth friendly services i.e (comprehensive HIV services, access to contraceptives, MNCH services, safe abortion services), access to SRH information; (including information on; sexuality education, menstrual hygiene, prevention and reporting cases of violence i.e, \Child marriages, FGM, SGBV, teenage pregnancies, stigm and discrimination) and demand for meaningful youth participation in decision making.

In the Picture above is Patrick Mwesigye the Founder and Team Leader Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum pausing with participants at the dialogue. 

The Yong Mothers Forum at Naguru Teenage Center, marked the forth young Mothers’ Forum organised by UYAHF under their campaign dubbed #YoungPeople4SafeMotherHood. The campaign has so far reached out to about 500 young people 80% of whom are adolescent mothers and adolescents girls at high risk of pregnancy and child birth. The over all goal of the campaign is to provide a platform for young people and especially young mothers to learn, dialogue, share their experience about the key concepts of safe motherhood make recommendations and suggest solutions to improving access to maternal and child health services for young mothers as well as commit to contribute to efforts geared at ending maternal mortality and morbidity.


3rd May 2016 / Kampala Uganda

Patrick Mwesigye

Founder and Team Leader: Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum

President: Africa Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development (AfriYAN East and Southern Africa)

Six out of ten Ugandan women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15. More than half of these women, or 34% of all women in Uganda have experienced physical violence in the past 12 months.

About 48% of women in Uganda have experienced physical violence at the hands of their husband or partner and 36% have also experienced sexual violence, while 49% have experienced emotional violence. Overall, more than two-thirds of ever-married women in Uganda (68%) have experienced some form of violence (physical, sexual or emotional) by a husband or intimate partner.

Gender-based violence (GBV) can best be defined as any verbal or physical act that results in bodily, psychological, sexual and economic harm to somebody just because they are female or male.

GBV can be done by an intimate partner, a family member, a neighbor, an acquaintance or a stranger. “It also happens because one person chooses to exercise power and control over another person” noted Nuliat 24 years, a mother of two and a once victim of violence.    Nuliat told me that she had been forced to relinquish her relationship about 6 months back because of physical and emotional violence she suffered from the husband who always came home drunk and would beat her resulting into physical harm. Nuliat is a resident of Kiwunya Slum in Nakulabye a Kampala suburb at the heart of Rubaga Division.

This was at a community dialogue organized by Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) a grassroots Youth Lead and Youth serving Organization in Kiwunya Slum, Nakulabye 4 parish a Kampala suburb located In Rubaga Division on 30th January 2016. The dialogue was organized under the theme, ““Empowering and positioning community in the fight to end Gender Based Violence against women, girls and children”.

 UYAHF under its mandate seeks to advocte for and address the health, gender and livelihood needs of young people especially young women and adolescent girls of ages 13- 30 years who are from poor and vulnerable backgrounds and victims of various forms of violence.

Banner Patrick_Gender_Based_Violence 2In the picture above is our social media poster that we use to advertise the dialogues which we intend to hold in 10 more slums.

“In many African societies, men and women are not yet equal. More value is given to men than women. As long as there is an imbalance of power between men and women, GBV will continue. GBV also happens when people do not know how to solve conflicts peacefully, or how to build and maintain healthy relationships based on mutual respect”, noted, Praise Mwesigwa the UYAHF SRHR program officer as she gave her keynote address at the dialogue. Learning these skills will give people an alternative to GBV, she added.

Key among the highlights of the dialogue was agreement from the participants and more so women that GBV continues to happen because it’s never discussed openly in communities. In most cases issues and cases of GBV are treated as private issues and When we treat GBV as a private issue, we allow it to continue, noted by participants as they fully agreed with “Nalongo” (Nalongo in Luganda language- means mother of twins) an opinion leader in the community that is known by many as the “auntie”

It’s also important to learn that Gender refers to the roles, responsibilities and behaviors that our society expects of both men and women. It’s of value for communities to understand gender issues because we recognize that these expectations are different for men and for women in different communities. Although most GBV cases are predominantly among women and girls and children, it’s also very important to note that men also experience GBV.

The community dialogue that attracted about 100 participants including among others, women, men, local leaders, children and leaders from local CBOs also intensively discussed the effects of GBV and how to prevent GBV.

The major highlight of the discussion on effects and prevention was the message sent out by Tukole Wamu community entertainment and dance group that performed, dances, and a 30 minutes play with a message on what causes GBV, effects and how to prevent GBV. The play themed, “ Okumalawo Obutabangiko Bwomumaka” ( Ending Gender Based Violence” attracted numbers to turn up for the dialogue and there was no other way to send the message home than watching and listening to the play.


Members of Tukolele Wamu Community Entertainment and Dance Group acting their play on Ending GBV to the audience

 The messages from the play highlighted the fact that, GBV does not only affect the individuals who are abused, but It also affects children, families, communities and the entire nation.

Individuals who are abused – or who have been denied opportunity – cannot fully participate in community life. Their ability to share their energy, ideas, skills, talents and opinions with their families, communities, places of worship and in the political process is lost when their bodies and minds are damaged by GBV.

Mastura one of the survivors of GBV noted as she shared her story that “GBV survivors often face stigmatization and discrimination.  Mastura 18 years and a mother of two is a victim of sexual violence and a single mother living with HIV. Mastura conceived her first born at 16 an up today she confesses that she cannot tell whereabouts of the father of her child who forcefully indulged her into un consensual sex that was at the same time unprotected where she conserved her first born.


Kids pause with the UYAHF SRHR Program Officer for a selfie at the dialogue  

Violence especially sexual violence can also cause health problems (including exposure to HIV infection and unwanted pregnancies, forced marriages), sadness, isolation, and a loss of self-confidence and income in individuals.

In families, GBV creates an unpredictable and frightening environment. Children learn to fear the abuser, and they worry about the parent who is being abused. Children who grow up in violent homes learn that violence and aggression are acceptable ways of expressing emotions or resolving conflicts. These children are more likely to leave home at an early age and to commit acts of violence in their own homes when they become adults.

As we concluded the dialogue Patrick Mwesigye the Founder and Team Leader in his closing remarks could not, forget to mention that Community plays a high price for GBV. Businesses lose money due to the ill health of employees who are abused. Responding to GBV including law enforcement, health services, court and legal proceedings, and social services requires both money and staff.

Some cases of GBV like physical and domestic violence, also lead to children running away from home something that exposes them to early marriages, school dropout and sometimes commercial sex work as they struggle to find survival since they luck parental care, support and guidance, he added.


Ssozi the area local council chairman and the Director of Tukolele wamu Community Entertainment and Dance Group addressing the participants at the Dialogue. Sozi is also a community champion for Ending GBV and has undergone several training on gender equity and equality and women empowerment.

He also called on the community to continue talking about GBV openly as this is one of the ways to make every concerned party learn about its effects and how to prevent it. I also noted that GBV is a crime in Uganda and is punishable by law and hence all victims have the right to report any case of gender based violence at the police and their cases will be filed and the process to seeking justice begins.

He encouraged the community to always call the government toll free number (116) where they can report any case of violence and seek counseling and guidance on how to about with the case or contact the family protection Unit of the nearby police station that directly deals with and handles the issues of SGBV.



5th Feb 2016 / Kampala Uganda

Patrick Mwesigye

Founder and Team Leader: Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum

President: Africa Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development (AfriYAN East and Southern Africa)

 14th Feb, is a day globally recognized by many as Valentine’s Day. The day when love birds express love to one another through various forms i.e. exchange of gifts, love messages, dinners among other things. Many young people in Uganda and probably in many other countries also don’t let this day go unnoticed. Many want to prove to their love partners how much they love them and they want to make them feel special and feel loved.

In Uganda Valentine’s day is one of those days where you will find hundreds of thousands of young people flocking to happening places at night, like; bars, pubs, clubs, cinemas, e.t.c to party, have fun and commemorate the day in style. One of our peer who preferred anonymity was quoted saying “ My Valentine’s Day begins at about 8pm when me and my friends flock our favorite hang out spots like bars to party and have fun with our loved ones”

On this years’ Valentines Day, Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum UYAHF threw a Valentines Condom Party at  Koko Bar and Lounge in Ntinda a favorite hang out spot for many young people around the Ntinda area suburb of Kampala Uganda’s capital.

The Valentines Condom Party was organized under our condom project entitled “Restock and Condomize”.  Restock and Condomize is campaign that is aimed at breaking the stigma behind Condoms, by promote correct and consistent condom use and ensuring condom availability at the time of need among young people.

IMG_2134 Praise Trust and Brian Wambede pledging to condomize 

Today, With the increasing HIV/AIDS and STI infection among young people and increasing cases of unwanted pregnancies among young women, there is need to accelerate efforts and promote interventions that can prevent HIV infection and prevention of unwanted pregnancies especially among young people.

The Restock Condom campaign also aims at creating awareness among young people on the benefits of stocking condoms and using them correctly and consistently without any compromise and how this can prevent HIV and STI infections and also prevent un-wanted pregnancies among sexually active young girls.

At the party masses turned up as they celebrated the largely recognized the day of ‘Valentino’ and  many could not in any way miss out from visiting our stall that was manned by our peer educators as they did both male and female condom education i.e demonstration and distribution.

As they did the education our peer educators retaliated the need, why one should stick to correct and consistent condom use in scenario that they are having sex with a partner with whom they do not know their HIV status and for a couple that is sexually active but does not want to get pregnant, noted Paul Webwoya one of our peers. We used the opportunity to educate to the young people that condoms are ffective in prevention of HIV, STIs and pregnancy if used effectively added Paul.

One of the cogs in the wheel retarding condom use among the youth is lack of confidence in communication especially at the access point. The young people also pointed out accessibility and affordability as challenges. One of the young people who also preferred anonymity was quoted saying, “ The easiest place we can access condoms is in shops and pharmacy as compared to the health center where the nurse will ask you what your gonna use it for. However, the best quality condoms like “O” condom, Life guard and protector are expensive. This therefore makes them inaccessible for us” Another young man whose name we could not get was quoted saying “ffe tetulina sente zakugula bintu ebyo…” meaning we don’t have money to buy the condoms.


Praise Trust the UYAHF Program Officer SRHR doing a Condom Demonstration session for some of the young people that turned up for the Valentines Condom Party.

The Condomize Valentine party was a success given the location and date, many young people enjoy hanging out and having fun in their circles but barely take precautionary measures about their health especially their sexual life. The essence of this party was particularly aiming at building young people’s confidence and sensitizing them about the values of effective use of condoms through correct and consistent use with no compromise.

I interacted with a number of guys who came along with their spouses to have fun in the bar, I could quickly realize that the ladies influenced their spouses to pick on the free condoms that we were giving out. “If I don’t care about my boyfriend, who will care…?” One said as she scooped a box of condoms from the table. At one point, a group of young guys called me in a more hidden corner adjacent to the table we were serving the condoms from, and one said, “…my brother, we need those gadgets but where you guys are, there is some light and we just can’t pick them from there. Please bring some here…” All these guys needed was confidence. This actually prompted us to minimize the lighting that was directed at some of distribution spot.

“Mbadde simanyi nti n’emu baala bagaba condomu, mwebale nyo…” literally meaning, I didn’t know that bars give out condoms, thank you very much UYAHF.

“Tubasangawa bwetuba nga twagala obuyambi bwamwe?” literally meaning, where do we get you in case we need more help from you?

“Tweyanziza okutuduukirira n’obuyambi buno” literally meaning, thank you for coming to our rescue with these life saving gadgets.

In total about 200 young people visited our different spots and we were able to distribute about 10,000 male condom and 2000 female condoms in a blink of 5 hours.

There are different social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram among others that can be used to preach the gospel of effective use of condoms especially among the youth. We managed to publicize and inform many young people about the Condomize Valentine Party using these platforms and the event was a success basing on the turn up.

Of recent, most of the clubs and public hangouts have also embraced condom use by pinning display boxes in bathrooms/restrooms. Still on the social media issue, while at the Condomize Valentine party, one young man approached me with his “smart phone” in the hand and proudly asked, “Can I get doorstep deliveries through whatsapp?” Of course I wasn’t going to deliver these condoms everywhere but I had a better idea to ease my workload. At the end of the discussion, he was in position to locate where to access condoms easily.