Eight DSW Youth Champions will be using their voices this year to make sure the EU’s external action effectively responds to young people’s needs, particularly in the field of global health and sexual and reproductive health and rights. The Youth Champions are from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Tanzania and are an integral part of DSW programmes in their countries and communities; empowering young people and promoting their rights.
Let’s hear from the two from Uganda, Dorothy and Jessy, Youth Champions with our partner organisation Action 4 Health Uganda to learn more about what they do as youth champions, and what they want to see change.
Dorothy Namubiru is a 20-year-old youth champion from the Mityana District of Uganda.
Dorothy is passionate about tackling teenage pregnancy and school dropouts and empowering young people to become change-makers. More in this video:
John Jessy Nabundesi is a 22-year-old youth champion from the Mukono district of Uganda.
Jessy wants to elevate young people’s voices and lead change in his community. Through community outreach, he works to share accurate information with his peers, and inspire change. More in this video:
What challenges are young people in Uganda facing?
Many young people have to travel a long distance from their homes to health facilities where they can receive youth-friendly services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has diverted funding away from family planning and sexual and reproductive health services, meaning that there has been less availability of products, with some young people also not seeking out services because of fear of contracting the virus.
The measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 have also caused economic hardship for many, driving up cases of teenage pregnancy and early marriage, with many young women and girls especially forced to drop out of school.
What needs to change?
Jessy – “Providing young people with accurate information, so that they can make informed decisions is really important. Also, the development of youth corners – spaces where young people can access health services, including sexual and reproductive health services – in health facilities has proven to be an effective way of ensuring young people seek out services. It would be great to see more of such corners introduced, so that young people, wherever they are in Uganda, can have access to such a space.”
Dorothy – “To tackle teenage pregnancy, and school dropouts, more education about sexual and reproductive health and rights is needed.’’
What role for the European Union?
Dorothy and Jessy recently met with EU decision-makers and shared their recommendations as to how the EU can support young people in Uganda to tackle the challenges they’re facing. They include:
The EU should strengthen its cooperation with the Government of Uganda to prioritise sexual and reproductive health services that are easily accessible to young people wherever they are, by developing youth-friendly corners, so that young people, wherever they are, can access health services, including sexual and reproductive health services, that are appropriate, adequate, confidential, and affordable.
The EU should prioritise community engagement, including by strengthening structure for youth participation, and through outreach activities, ensure that adequate information about sexual reproductive health and rights are offered from trusted members of communities, for example by youth champions.
The EU should liaise with the government of Uganda to make sure family planning is prioritised and commitments are implemented, to set the ground for the next generation to be empowered to make choices governing their own bodies and futures.
You can find out more about all eight youth champions here.