Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda

by Share Child Opportunity Eastern and Northen Uganda (SCOEN)
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Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda
Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda
Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda
Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda
Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda
Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda
Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda
Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda
Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda
Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda
Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda
Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda
Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda

Through our activity on Girls parliament to end child marriage in Uganda which is funded by Beyond Our Borders, a group-advised fund held at The Women's Foundation of Colorado through GlobalGiving, we are engaging communities in Soroti and Bukedea District in Uganda through intergenerational dialogues to collectively abandon child, early or forced marriage. We have train 48 change agents to lead the girl’s parliament in the community to hold open discussions and help their peers, family and friends re-envision how girls are treated, why their rights should be respected and why they should finish their education. One of the innovative approaches of Girls parliament is engaging with clan elders, who make decisions for the rest of the community. This approach is working. In just 5 months, we reached 99 high level clan elders, 64 child government workers, 32 policy implementer all of whom have changed their hearts and minds about child, early or forced marriage

Promising practices

Engaging and empowering local actors to identify challenges and take action in their own communities is a powerful mechanism for addressing child marriage and other forms of violence against children. Community Change is especially important in fragile contexts, where the social contract between governments and citizens is broken. An engaged community can also contribute to a decrease in child neglect, improved nutrition, and greater child participation in household and community decisions.

In our current context, SCOEN’s work with policy implementers, local community leaders has seen tremendous success. These leaders are well suited to address child marriage and violence against children because they remain trusted and respected despite weak rule of law and broken government systems. The role of local actors involves regularly bringing together groups to discuss community business, which can be an effective forum for learning and dialogue around the well-being of children. For the same reason, local councils, are also important partners for facilitating such dialogue. These local leaders understand and care deeply for the communities they serve and are key partners in SCOEN’s work to end the practice of child marriage.

local actors play vital roles in protecting teenage boys and girls from too-early sexual activity and teen pregnancy. Why involve the local actors in  Teen Pregnancy Prevention? They are natural partners:

  • focus on values;
  • have community credibility;
  • have access to young people, parents, and potential volunteers;
  • have skills in reducing conflict; and
  • are willing to provide in-kind contributions.

With Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda we are involving all stake holder to including local leaders, talking about Teen Pregnancy in their local community

With our new giving Girls & Women Marketable Skills for Livelihoods cross-cutting approach addresses the divergent and driving factors undergirding the cultural acceptance of child marriage. Its holistic approach paves the way for sustainable cultural change, supporting the empowerment of young women and girls and the betterment of their families and communities. The approach focuses on providing life skills education and entrepreneurial opportunities addresses the critical underlying drivers of child marriage, including poverty and food insecurity. At the district level, the public messaging campaign is also supporting shifts to change social and cultural beliefs about child marriage. Empowering young women and girls with the skills and opportunity to advocate for themselves is an essential part of this campaign. In addition, the meaningful engagement of men and boys can help to create lasting and sustainable change to eradicate this practice. This engagement creates a lasting change in norms over time, decreasing harmful attitudes and behaviors towards child marriage.

Thanks to our donors, we’ve been able to reach girls like 15-year-old Akareut. “I think all girls should go to school and protected,” Akareut said to us when we met her. Unfortunately for Akareut, her family could not keep up with her school fees. Akareut is the third child in a family of six children, supported solely by Akareut’s mother – a domestic helper for a wealthy family. “My mom struggled a lot to send me to secondary school even though I wanted to, I am happy to a change agent hoping to change the world around girls” she said.

Outreach targeting and engaging local community leaders increase their awareness. Public education programs encourage them to emphasize to their communities that marriage requires the free and full consent of both parties. It is essential that religious and traditional leaders understand domestic laws related to forced marriage and how the practice of forced marriage violates women and girls’ human rights.



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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

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Community dialogues, Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda – Actively involving communities in the fight against child marriage

SCOEN has developed and refined Community Dialogues “Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda”as a set of participatory methodologies to surface community perspectives on issues affecting children especially a girl child on child marriage. We engage in participatory dialogues with their communities to understand how people, things, and spaces in their community were affecting a girl child’s well-being.

We asked the following two key questions of both adults and children: -

  • What do communities identify as their challenges and assets in supporting children?
  • What are the factors in children’s lives that support and harm them?

Through the Community Dialogue process, we worked with their communities to explore:

  1. Physical contexts in which children spend time in their communities
  2. Community factors that protect and support their safety and wellbeing
  3. Community factors which endanger and harm their safety and wellbeing
  4. Perspective differences between adults and children
  5. Potential for community mobilization to build on strengths and to address challenges in improving children’s safety and wellbeing

Why are the Community Dialogues Important?

the Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda Community Dialogues process include a variety of participatory methods—for both children and adults—that we choose from according to what they feel is appropriate for the context and the participants. our funding cluster, the community dialogues were conducted before the rest of the work even started because they provide an important way for communities to question their existing paradigms, construct their own solutions and sustain them over time.

Overall, our findings suggested communication initiatives involving school- and community-basedopportunities fordialogue and reflection constituted important avenues to start shifting discriminatory gender norms, but more strategic,multi-pronged approaches would be required to achieve more trans-formatory change.

Key lessons learnt

  1. Programming that is segmented by age and life stage makes it possible to carefully tailor messages.given thedifferent roles of mothers and fathers in perpetuating child marriage and the different developmental needsof adolescents of different ages.
  2. Peer-to-peer training can be very powerful if facilitators receive adequate training.
  3. Strong coordination between government structures and NGOs is crucial for success,to work directly at community level following the Ethiopian Charities and Societies Proclamation of 2009.
  4. Awareness-raising about the law against child marriage is a necessary but insufficient condition for combating childmarriage.
  5. Local elders, especially the men who generally uphold social norms,community conversations and awareness-raising efforts.
  6. Improving incentives (including low-cost items such as t-shirts or tea/coffee) to engage in communitydialogue initiatives may motivate more community members to attend.
  7. Well-managed girls’ clubs can provide emotional support and role models for girls, both crucial ingredients in
  8. Continuous programme M&E can build strong – and responsive – programming.
  9. Menstrual management schemes can improve both girls’ school attendance and their academic performance.It canalso reduce the risk of school dropout.
  10.  Parents and communities need to be directly targeted through programming efforts rather than relying solely on the spill-over effects of school-based programming if social norm change is to be a rea
  11.  Strong coordination with the Amhara Women’s Association has improved grassroots uptake. 
  12. Creative and innovative mediums – such as drama – are generating community dialogues around the value of girls,
  13. often for the first time.
  14. 3. Good M&E between programme implementers and coordinators has promoted positive impacts in sites where there is a face-to-face programming component.
  15. 4. one on one approach is an effective way to transmit messages, although care needs to be taken to avoid meeting fatigue
  16. by applying innovative media tools.
  17. 5. Programming should proactively target boys/men and encourage them to support the emergence of more equitable  gender norms.

Social platform recommendation

Conclusions in With regard to child marriage: Social norms that focus on girls’ sexual purity push both parents and girls towards child marriage, with marriage considered prestigious for girls’ parents and unmarried girls facing stigma.

  •  Local elders and religious leaders are often gatekeepers of these norms, in some communities holding them in placeand in others encouraging change.
  •  Overall, girls’ education helps delay marriage, in part because schooling locates girls as children and in part because itempowers them to make better decisions about their own lives.
  •  With tailored education, fathers and brothers can be critical allies, helping girls stay in school and unmarried.
  •  Marriage is often merely a default option. In many cases, girls marry solely because they have left school, do not have  access to either land or their own paid employment and are resented by their parents for their ‘idleness’.
  •  While in most communities ‘good’ girls are those who listen to their parents, there are nascent shifts in decision-making, with parents allowing girls to choose their own partners and time their own marriages.
  •  Health extension programming – and the 1-to-5 community groups that have ultimately grown out of it – have been vital to expanding community awareness about the risks of child marriage because of their effective grassroots penetration.
  •  Both legal awareness (about the age of marriage) and legal enforcement are patchy. In many communities, the marriageof 15 year olds is not considered child marriage. In others, an increasing reliance on ‘hidden’ marriages means child marriage continues unabated.

Conclusions with regard to education:

  •  Uptake of primary education is increasing rapidly, although, owing to both costs and parents’ concerns about girls’sexual purity, access to secondary school remains very limited.
  •  Parents’ reliance on girls’ domestic labour limits their schooling. Girls are made to miss school more than boys and arenot given sufficient time to study school lessons or do homework.
  •  Girls’ interest in education and employment is expanding. While migration and marriage continue to attract manygirls, especially in communities without strong role models, most girls now aspire to high school.
  • Parents’ and men’s interest in girls’ education is expanding, with parents wanting to foster their daughters’ self-relianceand men preferring to marry educated girls and women.
  •  School clubs can transform girls’ lives. They build confidence and voice and can radically alter girls’ aspirations,especially when they are combined with programming that reaches parents and other social norm gatekeepers – and do not exclude boys.
  •  Adolescent girls need more educational options. Those who do not attend high school, or who fail their primary seven exams, need training opportunities that will help them achieve the independence that will allow them to delaymarriage.

The notes were qualitatively analyzed for themes relating to the key questions, and the following major findings relevant to child protection emerged:

  1. The home and school contexts—where children spend most of their time—remain key spaces to target in child protection efforts.
  2. Adequate provisions, resources, and facilities are fundamental to supporting children’s health, safety, and wellbeing. Within the home, this means ensuring the presence of basic physical necessities and positive socio-emotional relationships between parents and children. At school, this means promoting a sense of belonging, clean and safe environments, recreational activities such as games and sports, and good interpersonal relationships.
  3. Social-emotional climates and interpersonal relationships should be a key target area for child protection strategies.
  4. Girls and children with disabilities are disproportionately affected by harmful factors in their environments. Girls are particularly harmed by sexual abuse at school, sexual activity and early pregnancy, gender-specific barriers to educational achievement, and gender-specific norms at home. Children with disabilities are ignored and sometimes even abused in their environment. Strategies to protect children and improve wellbeing must address these factors.
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Advancing girls’ leadership by working directly with girls
Conducted “Girls’ Parliaments” through which girls engaged with key stakeholders like police and child
protection unit, political as community advocacy to end child marriage in the communities at sub county and
district level. 70 girls trained to lead the Girls parliament, and 285 Adolescent girls and young women aged
13-24 years and participate in the Girls parliament, Conducted Sexual Reproductive Health Right and
Gender Based Violence mentoring and role modelling for in 5 schools and 14 communities through debates,
poetry and MDD reaching 210 Adolescent girls and young women.
Conducted training of 25 trainers of peer educators on Life skills based Comprehensive sexuality education
who conducted peer educations on Life skills based Comprehensive sexuality education sessions for 520
girls and 304 boys.

Gloria’s story
“My name is Gloria. I am 17 years old, I live in [a village in Soroti] I remember when my mother left me at home. My aunt’s first-born moved into our house. This is when things became bad. My cousin started telling me about marriage and that I had to get married.
I was very young at the age of 16. She took advantage of my age and because of her, I got married. At that very time, I fell pregnant. My mother was still not back from her project work in another district. Time went by and I gave birth, which did not make me happy because of the suffering. I lived like a slave because I had no time to rest, nor to be happy.
I had to run away. I left everything – it was just me and my child. I left the man and went back home. When I went to clan leader, he said that he didn’t want any girl child below the age of 21 to get married. I went back to my mother’s home and found my two brothers there. They said “No, my sister. Just stay here, don’t go During that time my mother came back home, and she was surprised to find out that I was in a marriage. Then she started asking me questions of what happened, and I told her what happened. Then my mother called the family and asked them what was happening, and she said that she was going to take the matter to the police. The family refused to take the matter to the police, which made her very sad. They said “No, don’t do that. Only God knows”.
The father of the child does not support the child. My mother is the one who takes care of everything that the child needs, and things became better. That is when I began sensitising young people and also teaching them about their rights and responsibilities because I don’t want them to become the lost, but the found.”

My name is Isiku and I am 23 years old. I live in Arapai and I am a volunteer at SCOEN. I became an activist because as someone who experienced challenges of teen pregnancy, I wanted to help put an end to early child marriage and teen pregnancies. At SCOEN I am a Champion of Change facilitator on ending child marriages, promoting gender equality and children’s rights.
For the movement that aims to end early, child and forced marriage, I wish to see all those children who were involved to make it back to school and succeed in life. I would like to continue sensitizing communities on the importance of education and the danger of getting pregnant at an early age. One day, I would like to become a Community Developer of SCOEN because I have seen so many activities that needs more attention in our communities.
Dorothy is a young volunteer at SCOEN. Her motivation for becoming an activist was to help end early child marriage. She was once a victim of early child marriage and as a result, wanted to help others avoid the situation she was in. With regards to the social movement to end early, child and forced marriage, Dorothy would like to see all people sensitized to the issue. She hopes that her role will be influential in her own community.
When asked what she would like to become one day, Dorothy explained, “I would like to become a police woman one day to help or work with the community”.



Supporting young female leaders is critical to achieving gender equality.
By giving girls a voice, many of the challenges they face can be overcome. This will help accelerate change and ensure their needs are addressed effectively.
Participation can also improve the quality of services, policies, governance and access to justice. Supporting young female leaders to play a strong political, economic and social role is critical to achieving gender justice.
We have a vision that all girls and young women will be able to participate in decision-making processes that affect them by 2030. This vision mirrors that of the global goals being implemented. We are committed to achieving this by supporting young female leaders and working to promote the voices of young women and girls. We are also developing a report alongside partners that will track the progress of the girl-related global goals. It will ensure global leaders are being held to their promise of achieving gender equality.
We also work with boys and men to overcome discrimination and gender inequality. We empower boys and men to be actively involved and committed to redistributing power in decision-making processes. This means the voices and needs of women and girls receive the attention and respect they deserve


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In the past quarter numbe of progress have been, our dialogues have continued, SCOEN have called on communities to: Unite to end harmful social and cultural beliefs that give rise to violence against girls; end harmful practices; strengthen reporting & response mechanisms within communities & educational institutions

This was made possible by your generous gifting to support our work, out of thousands of inspiring projects  on GlobalGiving, so we’re grateful you chose to support our work. Thank you for being a part of our team of supporters that are making our project a reality. Thank you for your amazing response!

SCOEN has partnered with the GlobalGiving on a public appeal to raise awareness of the issue of child marriage in Uganda. Through the GlobalGiving Crowdfunding platform SCOEN has so far raised $1,867 of the required total goal of $82,350, including match funding from the GlobalGiving on donation. The money raised will support a project that will help facilitating girls' parliaments through which girls and young women can advocate with key stakeholders like police and child protection units to end child marriage at the community, sub-county, and district level

more funds are still needed to UnlockFutures for girls for good

Breaking the cycle Girls don’t need empowering; they just need a fair start and a level playing field. That’s why at Plan International we are aiming over the next 5 years to make sure 100 million girls learn, lead, decide, and thrive.

Esthers testmony

Esther is agent change girl in our program "Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda"


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Organization Information

Share Child Opportunity Eastern and Northen Uganda (SCOEN)

Location: Soroti, Eastern Uganda - Uganda
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Scoenuganda1
Project Leader:
Hellen Ijangolet
Soroti, Eastern Uganda Uganda
$14,523 raised of $82,350 goal
79 donations
$67,827 to go
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