“Doesn’t it bother you to see a teen being a child mother? Doesn’t it break your heart? Why don’t you do something to stop teenage pregnancies?”
These were some of the lines in Alyce Namale’s poem dubbed: Why Society Should End Teenage Pregnancies.
“We scream for help to a society that doesn’t care. Soon it will be your 13-year-old daughter, why is our society u bothered, we see a 12-year-old girl full of life and potential being ruined,” the poem adds.
Namale after a heated competition with nine others emerged victorious at the grand final of the second edition of the Adolescent Girls’Voices Poetry and storytelling Competition (AGVPS), which was organized by the Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU) at Golf Course in Kampala on Saturday.
The competition was organised by PHAU with funding support from the commonwealth.
Her poem despite being the seventh at the presentation spoke to one of the biggest existing challenges being faced by teenage girls in Uganda.
In the just concluded FY2021/22 for example, out of the 642 girls aged 10-24 years, who visited the Kiswa Health Facility, records from the Naguru Teenage Information and Health Centre (NTIHC) indicates that 37%, translating to 239 were pregnant and of which 98 were aged 12-19 years.
Data further shows that 38% (92) of the positive cases were in-school girls indicating an increase of 119% from the previous FY 2020/2021. 64% of the pregnancies recorded at the Centre were indicated to be unplanned.
As of 2021, the country recorded 31,565 pregnancies every month which translates into 1,052 pregnancies recorded daily, according to the District Health Information System-2 (DHIS-2)
Statistics from the UNAIDs further revealed that Uganda recorded over 250,000 cases of teenage pregnancy during the lockdown and these were the only cases that were reported.
Ministry of Health, further reveals that 25% of Ugandan teenage girls become pregnant by the age of 19.
Namale’s poem is centered on the risks young mothers go through at the watch of the would-be savers.
She walked away with a grand cash prize of Shs700,000.
She was not the only winner.
The first runner’s up was Kismat Shounie with a Grill in Emotion who won Shs500,000, followed by the second Runner’s Up Tracy Sekanabo with A message to my Girl Child and won Shs300,000 while Amanda Ofembi who presented the poem dubbed Grotesque Ritual that robs Girls of their Childhood won the Viewers Choice Awards scooped Shs200,0000.
Others who presented were; Shamsa Kaweesi with a poem titled; Equality for a Girl Child Maria Noel presented a poem dubbed: I Speak for My Destiny God’s Mercy Nabukenya, Faith Rebecca with Chronicles of Woman’s Existence, Lorette Tumusiime, and Mase Nyarwoth among others.
The AGVPS is an open space for adolescent girls and young women creative writers aged (10 – 21 years) majoring in poetry and storytelling, where they join an adolescent girl-focused Generation Equality call to action movement that addresses all socio-economic forms of inequalities among Ugandan adolescent girls.
Lillibet Namakula the Team Leader and co-founder of PHAU told DaParrot that the major objective of this competition is to address all forms of socio-economic inequalities among Ugandan adolescent girls and young women aged (10-21 years) by amplifying their voices and rights through creative writing competition.
“As PHAU, we are offering a platform to these young girls to express their challenges affecting them and their colleagues outside their, before even thinking about the big statistics, we wanted to hear from these teens on what is affecting them,” she said.
“We understand that girls have the voice but they don’t have the vacuum to out them so it’s our role as PHAU who have that platform to help them to do so also they cannot reach relevant stakeholders so in a competition like these we use them to collect grievances which we use in our advocacy,” she said.