Campaign to End Child marriages and Teenage pregnancies
Child marriage is one of the worst and deadliest forms of sexual and gender-based violence against girls. Every year, millions are forced into wedlock with men who are often much older, robbing them of an opportunity to keep learning, be children, and in many cases, to survive. Globally around 21% of young women were married before their 18th birthday with about 12 million girls under the age of 18 are married each year and more than 37 % of the cases happen in Sub-Saharan Africa according to the UNFPA 2020 report.
The report further estimates that more than 110 million additional girls will marry before their 18th birthday over the next decade. According to Global Girlhood Report 2021 by save the children, although nearly 80 million child marriages globally have been prevented in the last 25 years, progress had stalled and COVID-19 pandemic has worsened inequalities that drive child marriage.
In Uganda, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of life resulting in school closures, loss of jobs, and disruptions in access to health and social services but no group has felt the effects of the pandemic more than adolescent girls. The high rates of teenage pregnancy can be attributed to disruption to programmes that support access to sexual reproductive health information and services to schoolgirls and additionally, poverty has led to some parents to marry off their daughters in order to make money to survive. Teenage pregnancies have been reported in nearly every district in Uganda with regional prevalence highest in Eastern region at (30%), followed by Northern (27%) and Western (25%) while Central had the lowest proportion at 19%.
The campaign to end child marriage and teenage pregnancies aims to mobilize and engage key stakeholders, including government, religious leaders, cultural leaders, youths, civil society organizations, parents, private sector, diplomatic missions among others at National and district level in Uganda to speak up and champions efforts and actions to eliminate child marriage and teenage pregnancies and all forms violence and practices against young women in communities.