Girls trained to lead the girls' parliament
Girls’ Parliaments sessions 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 was conducted adolescent girls and young women equipped with knowledge to participate in the dialogues, the dialogues registered participation from the Child and Family Protection Unit office, Children advocate, child brides who have dropped out of school, schools girls, LC ones, women councilors, clan and religious leaders, parents who attended parent schools, many parents gave testimonies who some of their daughter were given second chances in life and are excelling; these activity reached 128 girls, 39 men, and 43 adult women. The school dropout who are the victims of child marriage were identified with the help of local councils, clan leader and religious leaders this was so helpful as the community is involved and owning the project. During this activity, the community outreach officers together with the community development officer of Arapai Sub County and district Probation and welfare Officer conducted the training of both in and out of schools’ girls in the school’s communities of Tukum, Angai, onyakai, Arapai and Odudui in Arapai Sub County and Kichinjanji, Soroti Islamic Primary Schools and Soroti Community Senior Secondary School in Northern Division. All these trainings were fruitful 60 school girls, 30 school drop outs, 7 senior women teachers and the area 14 local council ones equipped with the knowledge to be aware and confident to participate in open discussions on SRHR and child marriage issues in girls’ parliaments dialogues.
Achom is a 16-year-old primary 7 pupil who is an active participant in Girls’ parliament. Her participation, she says, has fostered her ambition and capacity to be the first in her family to embrace. She wants to be a doctor.
Achom joined the Girls’ parliament June 2019. ‘That was the time I could not stand for my-self especially when menstruating,’ she explained, adding, ‘I felt shame as if it was my personal problem.’ The Girls’ parliament not only taught her about personal hygiene but also made her ‘feel free’ about being a girl.
In addition, she explained, the Girls’ parliament ‘helped me improve my speaking skills’. She is no longer afraid ‘to raise questions and give answers in the classroom lesson’. Having learned the importance of ‘choosing our friends with great care’, Achom is also a mentor for other girls, ‘encouraging them to be self-confident to speak out their view’.
Recognising boys are a key part of the solution, Achom has worked hard to foster a feeling between boys and girls that they are ‘as brothers and sisters’. Achom explained, ‘The male pupils who are members of the girls’ Girls’ parliament have been educated about the appropriate relationship between male and female pupils.’ Now, she added, there is ‘no problem based on differences in sex’.
The girls’ Girls’ parliament also works closely with parents, helping them recognise ‘females are equal with males in all aspects of life’. Because girls in Teso tend to be responsible for a far greater share of domestic labour, which impacts their ability to complete their schoolwork, the Girls’ parliament emphasises to parents the ‘equal distribution of household chores among girls and boys at home’.
Achom says that, because of SCOEN’s interventions, her community is a much better place to be a girl. ‘The practice of early marriage seems to be reducing’ she said, and ‘The community realised the value of girls’ education.’ Asked whether anything could be done to improve programming, Achom had two suggestions. First, noting that in rural areas people are often unwilling to attend training, ‘I recommend the use of house-to-house visits.’ Second, because ‘there is a shortage of trained teachers, I recommend the number of teachers be increased’. She ended enthusiastically, ‘Let female harassment be halted!’
Mentoring and role modelling for in and out of school girls through debates, poetry and MDD, that include peer education - guidance and counseling sessions conducted in Soroti Islamic primary school, and kichinjajai primary school by the Community Outreach Officers and peer educators/volunteers, mentoring and role modelling sessions availed AGYW with information regarding addressing gaps in SRHR/GBV service delivery, consequences and prevention of child marriage among themselves, general body hygiene and sanitation, roles and duties of children in schools and at home. During this activity girls stories/experience were captured.
Parents Schools session conducted in 10 school communities to identify key protection threats and identify community driven strategies to mitigate against protection threats, in these sessions, parents aired out many concerns and we realised most of them unaware of the case management and reporting, criticizing children rights these therefore strengthened the involvement of child protection and family unit from police and advocates to be part of these session. These sessions have reach 67 males and 80 females from the parishes of Amoru, Arapai and wards of Madera, Camp Swahili and Kichijanji. This seems to be a good platform for male involvement as key decision makers in homes and with key roles and responsibilities in women issues, it was imperative that men participate in RH awareness and girl child protection activities.
Girls and Boys debating on girl child protection
Focus Group Dicussion on girls protection
Group mentorship of girls