Covid-19 has united the world in an incredibly unique way. While it is true that everyone has struggled with the fallout of this global pandemic, it has had more serious consequences on some of the most vulnerable populations. Unfortunately, adolescent girls have been among the most adversely affected and for some, life has become downright dangerous.
In Uganda, as with many other countries around the world, Covid-19 has resulted in an increased rate of teenage pregnancy. In order to gain basic necessities like sanitary towels, girls have engaged in transactional sex with men who take advantage of their need for money.
“Having been impregnated, this has not only ruined my future but also the trust that my parents had in me,” says Jane, who is facing a pregnancy at just 14 years old. Now, she finds herself out of school and afraid for her future.
Jane is not alone. In the Kitgum, Ngora, Kyegegwa, Kases and Lyantonde districts of Uganda, close to where Art of a Child operates, there have been more than 2,372 teenage pregnancies during this lockdown. Adding to the burden, many girls are left without a partner and find themselves having to be the breadwinners of their families.
Teenage pregnancies, among other risk factors, are adding to the number of girls who are not in school. Even before Covid-19, there were 98 million adolescent girls worldwide who were not in school and research suggests the pandemic could add an additional 20 million.
Incidence of early-childhood marriage is also on the rise as poverty caused by the pandemic has forced families to marry off their daughters to help alleviate financial burdens. In Uganda, at least 128 school-age girls have been married off in the Kyegegwa, Rakai, Kamira Sub-county, Luweero District alone.
In addition to early marriage, many girls are also having to enter the workforce at a young age to help provide for their families. In some communities, girls are also forced to take on much of the domestic work at home, keeping them from seeing their friends and joining community-building activities. When schools reopen, many of these girls will not go back.
It should be noted that Covid-19 has also resulted in a secondary health crisis in Uganda. In some communities, girls have tried to remove their unborn babies themselves to terminate their pregnancies. They are also at increased risk of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect.
The pandemic has also resulted in limited access to health services for girls and prescription medication has been very limited. And, the effects on girls’ mental health is equally as troubling. Without their support systems, many girls have no outlet for the stress they are feeling during this devastating time.
“These numbers are heartbreaking. As an organization, we are moving into the rural areas now [to engage girls],” says Global G.L.O.W. partnership coordinator Susan Tusabe. “We need to do more.”
As COVID-19 continues to spread, the future has never felt so unpredictable. These are challenging times for us all, and we hope you’re in good spirits and health! Right now, we’re doing everything possible to sustain daily operations and provide services to our community. While there’s a lot of uncertainty, we know that we need to adapt fast to our changing reality. Now, more than ever, our community needs us and we need you. If you’re able, please make a donation to provide emergency and preventive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to our Girls empowerment programme at: Protect 3,200 Girls From Child Marriage in Uganda; sponsor some of our change champions for skilling programs.
If you’re unable to donate at this time, there are many other ways you can support us! by providing us with releive items such us, hande sanitizers, gloves, veronica buckets for routine hand washing, nose maks for our girls.
You can advocate for us by sharing our mission with a family member or friend. Even a quick mention on your social media would mean the world to us. In times like this, we’re reminded of how interconnected we all are. Thank you for being part of our community. Without you, none of it is possible and we feel privileged that you selected our project to support out of so many wonderful causes.
By adding your donation, you've become a part of our community of supporters and we're thrilled to have you on the team. We'll send you an update through GlobalGiving three or four times a year to tell you about the impact you've made.
We'll explain what work we've accomplished and hopefully have some great photos to share! Please consider telling your friends and family about our project. Sharing with your community why you chose to support our organization will help us increase the work we can do in our community.
"I’m a member of a girls’ parliament. Thanks to the program, I am able to help raise awareness about child marriage and listen to and support my friends who are at risk of child marriage. I connect them with the Debout Fille center. Girls participate in our parliament club meetings with their friends and are able to share their experiences."
– Patricia sexual violence suviour