Girls Not Brides Uganda (GBNU) is a National alliance with a membership of 103 Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) working at community, district, regional and national levels committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfill their potential. It has been a key partner to the Ugandan government in implementing the National Strategy to End Child Marriages and Teenage Pregnancies (2014/2015 -2019/2020).
The strategy is currently under mid-term review with United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development. GNBU is chaired by Joy for Children Uganda and World Vision Uganda.
The key strategic focus areas are:
- improved policy and legal environment to protect children and promotion of the girl child’s rights;
- improved access to quality sexual and reproductive health services, education, child protection services and other opportunities;
- changing dominant thinking and social norms related to child marriage in the communities;
- empowerment of both girls and boys with correct information to enable them to recognize child marriage and early pregnancy as a gross violation of their rights and take mitigating action;
- coordination, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for the effective implementation of the strategy.
Centre for adolescent reproductive health (CEFARH) as other members of the alliance was invited by the Ministry for gender labor and social development through the Alliance chairing committee, to participate in the consultation meeting to revise the national strategy to end child marriage and teenage pregnancy in Uganda.
The meeting was held from 16th -17th March 2022 at Royale Imperial Hotel Kampala. The meeting was chaired by the commissioner of gender labor and social development, with attendance from the commissioner in charge of child probation, policy consultants, and other stakeholders of government and CSOs of Uganda; CEFARH foundation Uganda was picked to represent the northern Uganda community organization and to talk about the new goals and focus of the strategy.
During the meeting, Simon Ogwang, our director of operation who doubles as the co-founder of the foundation, advised the government to revise the direction of the strategy aimed to ending child marriage, teenage pregnancy and other forms of violence against children in Uganda.
He suggested not only stopping on the first two because all lead to one another: violence against children leads them to child marriage and teenage pregnancy, so the strategy should work on any form of violence against children. He insisted on the government tightening the laws that protect children’s testimony in court, in order to encourage openness, and talked about the loose law that allows the victims to be removed from custody by their relatives based on bribes.
During the meeting, the strategy was revised so that it caters to children’s welfare, growth, and dignity in the community both in and out of school, tackling the cultural norms and other community beliefs that affect children – both boys and girls – in the community of Uganda.