As Uganda draws close to marking the World Population Day on July 11, civil society and rights advocates have been advised to design activities and policies that engage men in the fight against sexual violence.
The call was made by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Medical Director, Dr. Olive Sentumbwe during a pre-World Population Day Inter-generational Policy dialogue on the State of the National Adolescent Health policy framework and youth friendly sexual reproductive health services.
The event was organized at Statistics House by the Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) in conjunction with the National Population Council and Youth Engage and Take Action for SRHR project.
Dr. Sentumbwe said Uganda’s population is dominated by youth and adolescents but are always left out during policy formulation and implementation which has paused a challenge of their plight.
“If you a looking for better policies and strategic documents in Africa, Uganda has the best ever, today right from the top. Uganda has pronounced itself on the Sustainable Development Goals through the National Development plan and has well laid out plans on engaging the involvement of young people in different sectors but these have not been fully implemented,” Dr. Sentumbwe said.
Sentumbwe said the fight against sexual violence, child marriages, STD/HIV transmission among youths and adolescents must be refocused to target male involvement since they are the major decision makers.
“The fight against gender based violence will continue to be futile not until meaningful programs and policies are designed targeting the male counterparts so as to cause cultural and behavioral change,” Dr. Sentumbwe said.
She added that, “Men are the leaders of everything you can think about, when it comes to religious and cultural dogmas, it is the men; but until we positively influence the behavior of boys and men, the efforts might be futile. The men need to own the change right from the beginning.”
Winnie Apio, a Programs Director at Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) noted that as the world marks the World Population Day, there is need for duty bearers to consider issues that affect the sexual reproductive health of youth and adolescents since they form the biggest part of the country’s population.
“The youth and adolescents are crucial in determine growth and development of our country and it is therefore very important to take note of their sexual reproductive health challenges that they face and try to ensure that there is more uptake and access of family planning among them in order for Uganda to meet its overall development goal,” Apio said.