12th October 2020
It’s amazing how communities have adapted to implementing accountability-oriented interventions in service-delivery, let’s continue holding ourselves accountable and this starts with having the capacity and capability to own our work. To truly believe in ourselves and our potential. To truly know our worth however painful and lonely it could look like sometimes. One thing remains for sure; we were put on this planet for a purpose and the earlier we identify what that is, the easier living would become.
“Every young girl has got many dreams and that one huge dream that always seems impossible, mine was to become a star, never knew what kind as it always appeared in different forms but I always knew I was one.” Having to witness the birth of such girl empowering ideas makes me want to be 8 once again. It feels like the beginning of the Millennium over again.
Project Period and Targets
The Confidence Gap Project is a 3-years project targeting 10,000 Young Girls aged 10-19 years in Uganda to express their potential beyond leadership. The confidence gap for young girls is a Global issue and that has directly translated to missed out opportunities. Exceptional Young girls in Uganda continue to lack opportunities to access their full potential because they are always defined by their communities and traditional norms rather than by who they could be as individuals. Through this project, girls will explore how safety, support and self-expression come together to form the basis of the Power to!
What better day to commence such tremendous work than the International Day of the Girl Child? The Girls Must Team headed to a rural community in Kayunga District where we met 50 girls and guardians to find out how they’ve been holding up in the COVID-19 Period. The bright gaze from their eyes we received on our arrival reminded me of the Friday debate sessions we always had in Academy school. It reminded me of the feeling I got every time we were told we were starting Music practice after classes in my Primary school. It felt being alive again, the girls felt hopeful and most importantly free/ rescued even all we could offer at the moment was a listening ear.
Some of the challenges rural girls faced in the COVID-19 period included,
- Permissiveness, a result of parents neglect. It was noted that most Young girls were in position to move freely where they ended up spending time recklessly outside their homes.
- Mistreatment and child labor. Due to the increase in polygamy and marriage breakages in the COVID-19 period, young girls were forced to live in non-friendly environments.
- Increase in HIV infections as a result of cross-generational relationships.
- Lack of knowledge and access to family planning services. This increased in the number of teenage pregnancies and abortions.
- Early and forced marriages. Parents in exchange for basic needs be like food forced their daughters’ hands into marriage.
- Insecurities among Young girls as they were vulnerable to rape and defilement from potential security and peace promoters.
- School dropouts. Even though schools haven’t officially opened, it was noted that majority parents had advised their children to indulge in other income generating activities like farming, and vocational training. This will significantly mark the increase in school dropouts.
- Adolescent girls also reported the rapid growth changes that had occured to their bodies which worried them as they planned to return to school with no promotion to the next class.
- High rates of abortion. This was reported as a result of poor relationship choices they made in the COVID-19 period. This also led to death in cases where no health care services were sought.
- It was also noted that there was increase in rural-urban migration for Adolescent Girls in Wakyairakyi Village. A number of girls moved to the urban centres in search for better standards of living.
We wrapped up the day by offering re-usable sanitary towels to each girl a material that lasts 12 months without them being able to spend on Sanitary products. This was after taking them through a series of personal hygiene and Menstrual Management.
We hope each girl gets to find inspiration during this journey through the stories, information and opportunities that will be shared in this period of healing and manifestation.