More needs to be done in terms of awareness, if young girls – whose full potential has been hampered because of teenage pregnancies – are to attain their goals in the future.
The rate of teenage pregnancy in the country is at 24 per cent with regional variations. In rural areas, 24 per cent of girls experience early pregnancy compared to 16 per cent of wealthier households and 21 per cent of urban girls.
While speaking at Live Your Dream conference on in Kampala at the weekend, Miss World Africa Quiin Abenakyo said the practice of early marriage is still prevalent in Uganda and is highly associated with lower female access to secondary education in regions where girls are married before the legal age of 18.
“In United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Uganda we have found a partner to help us in the fight against teenage pregnancy. Today one out of four girls is either pregnant or a mother. I believe teenage pregnancy is a real problem that is preventing girls from reaching their full potential,” said Abenakyo.
Abenakyo, who was speaking about her success story together with the two former Miss Uganda winners; Phiona Bizzu (2012/13) and Leah Kagasa (2016/17) advised young people to always look beyond the present if they are to attain success.
She added; “Growing up in an extended family left you with no room to play or mess around. If it meant business then it had to be business and this is what I can speak to whoever is seated here look far and don’t waste time being a mother before your right is complete damage to your future.”
Kagasa also encouraged young people who have become mothers not hide from the public.
“Teenage pregnancies affected me in my early life. My cousins and aunties were affected so when I become Miss Uganda I used my position to raise awareness to end teenage. This calls to whoever can help to come out and we end this. If you empower the girl child you will not only change her life but likely transform her entire community,” said Kagasa.
On her part, Bizzu encouraged young people to work in order to earn some money and therefore support themselves. This means, they will stop asking for money which in turn might mean they won’t be bullied into conceiving.
Don’t stop working. That’s how you achieve your dream, my success did not come out of the blue. I am an orphan who grew up in an orphanage. That didn’t stop me from having a dream. Even after I won the Miss Uganda crown, I was shunned by the court of public opinion. But that didn’t stop me,” said Bizzu.