Youth Advocates train in SMART Advocacy

Kampala – Feb 25th 2018

IMG_7669Workshop participants pause for a group picture on day one.

On Feb 22nd 2018, Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) held a two day’s capacity building workshop for SRHR Youth Networks at Kolping Hotel Kampala on SMART advocacy and effective Coordination.

 

The capacity building workshop attended by 33 participants from five major SRHR Youth Networks in Uganda aimed at strengthening evidence based SMART advocacy and coordination capacity of youth networks to meaningfully advocate for policy shifts in Adolescents Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. The SRHR Youth Networks in attendence included among others; AfriYAN Uganda, Kampala Youth Advocacy Network, Girls Not Brides, Uganda Youth Network among others.

 

More than 3 in 10 people in Uganda are young people age 10 – 23, while nearly 12 million Ugandan are adolescents age 10-19 (34.8%), making Uganda one of the youngest countries in the world, 2014 National Census. Young people are shaping social and economic development, challenging social norms, beliefs and values, and are building the foundation for the country’s future.

But despite evidence that critical investments in Uganda’s young demographic could yield returns in protecting their rights, improve their health and wellbeing, including sexual reproductive health and rights, enhance school enrollment and completion particularly for girls, promote gender gender equality and provide skills and and knowledge to build capabilities and agency, Uganda has not done enough to pay extra attention to it’s young people and invest in their wellbeing.  As a result, many young people still confront obstacles that prevent them from having a safe transition into adulthood.

 

Multiple challenges like; early school drop among teenage girls (22%), pregnancy and child birth related complications (1in 4 girls), early and forced child marriages (1 in 2 girls), HIV infection (570 young women get infected with HIV weekly), sexual and gender based violence (58% for 15-19), unsafe abortions contributing almost 25% to maternal mortality rates youth, unemployment (83%), among others, all deprive young people of opportunities to realize their potential.

 

Majority of the above challenges are as a result of a none supportive policy and legal environment that promotes adolescent and young people’s Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, gender equality and meaningful youth participation.

Just recently in a space of two years, we have seen government of Uganda, withdraw very critical policy documents including; the National Guidelines and Service Standards on SRHR, the National Standards and Guidelines for reducing maternal mortality and morbidity from unsafe abortion, the National Adolescent Health Policy among others.

 

To enhance meaningful youth participation and promote evidence based advocacy for improved adolescent sexual reproductive health and rights policies and programs, young people were trained on SMART Advocacy, effective coordination as well as improving communication and documentation.

 

The capacity building workshop was delivered using the PMNCH Advocating for Change for Adolescents Tool Kit a Practical Toolkit for Young People to Advocate for Improved Adolescent Health and Well-being.

IMG_7589Workshop participants in one of groups work taking on an excercise.

The toolkit which is joint initiative made possible by a collaboration between the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (the Partnership) and Women Deliver, with the support of several youth partners and contributors was developed to be used by networks of youth-led and youth- serving organizations to change the world! The toolkit guides the design, implementation and monitoring of an effective national advocacy action roadmap to bring about positive policy-specific changes to improve the health and well- being of adolescents.

The toolkit has 5 chapter each of which includes includes examples and exercises that assist young people to influence their country’s national health planning processes.

Interactive group break away sessions as participants delved deep into discussions and excercises of various toolkit chapters 

Chapter by chapter, and in an interactive style of dialogue and learning, youth participants we equipped with information on; Getting ready for action: understanding adolescent health and well-being ie; understanding health issues affect adolescents, adolescents’ rights, barriers that prevent adolescents from achieving health and well-being and understanding advocacy and accountability and why are youth-led advocacy and accountability and partnerships are critical.

Gathering information on national policies, strategies and plans; understanding policies, strategies and plans and what each entails, what makes for an effective adolescent health and well-being policy and why some adolescent health policies ineffective.

Using global commitments to improve adolescent health and well-being; what are global accountability mechanisms and how can they be used, how local and global processes are connected and how global commitments can be used as accountability tools.

Developing an effective advocacy action roadmap ie; understanding what you want to accomplish for adolescents’ health and well-being, who can help you accomplish your goal and objectives, what activities help to accomplish ones’ objectives and how to tell your efforts are successful.

Reviewing, monitoring and action for better results i.e; how do you know your efforts are working and can create a long-term change or whether you need to re-strategize.

Additionally, the workshop equipped youth participants with communication and documentation skills to support their advocacy interventions stressing the importance of accuracy in communication and documentation, developing a communications plan and effective use of the media.

IMG_7610

Main facilitator Patrick Mwesigye facilitating at the two day capacity building workshop.

Integrity was also highlighted a tool for building individual and institutional respect and credibility as well as increasing prospects for funding and sustainability of an organization. Different youth networks shared what they are currently doing in advancing adolescents and youth sexual reproductive and rights.

 

The trained was welcomed by all youth participants and some we quoted noting that there is need for more of such capacity building training organized and facilitated by fellow peers where we don’t only learn how to improved our advocacy, but evidence based SMART advocacy, joint sharing, learning and implementation and most importantly joint reflection, review and monitoring our progress and the impact of our our advocacy work.

 

Youth participants pledged to use evidence in building up cases for their advocacy interventions and ensuring the SMART approach in designing their advocacy strategies while some pledged to develop communication plans/ strategies for their networks.

90% of the participants rated the training highest in attaining the workshop’s intended objectives.

 

By Patrick Mwesigye, Praise Mwesigwa and Hassan Njukyi.

 

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