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Let’s give girls a real choice over when they become mothers

Let’s give girls a real choice over when they become mothers

Sophie and campaigners are standing up to improve sexual health and education in Uganda

My name is Sophie, I’m 23 years old and from Uganda. I’m campaigning to give girls a real choice over when they become mothers. I can’t do it alone, so I’m calling on you to stand with me.

I left primary school when I was 13, by that time ten girls in my village were already pregnant.

People used to say those girls got pregnant because they associated themselves with girls who were bad and they had bad manners. I was told they were a bad omen.

But that’s not true. They got pregnant because they didn’t have the information needed to make informed choices about sex and their future.

I went to an Anglican school which treasured purity. The only message I heard about sex was abstinence. So what does a girl do if she chooses not to abstain?

Abstinence is unrealistic and puts a lot of pressure on girls. Putting the blame and responsibility on girls is not the solution.

The solution is to improve sexual health and education in Uganda.

We need youth friendly spaces where we can learn about our bodies, healthy relationships, reproduction and get confidential access to contraception. Girls need to be informed and empowered so they can make choices over their bodies and their futures.

I’m a Sunday school teacher and when I teach young people I give them information on how to prevent teenage pregnancy. It’s not what I’m there for, but I do it because I know no one else will.

In Uganda, pregnant teenage girls are sometimes banned from attending school, irrespective of government policy. When I witnessed many girls being chased out of school, I knew I had to do something.

I’ve been campaigning with other young campaigners in my country and we’ve successfully put the issue on the agenda. Now we need the government to commit to investing in and improve sexual health education and services for young people.

On the 24 March we will meet the members of the national Parliament and demand better sexual health services and information for young people. But I want to take your voice with me.

I cannot do this alone, stand in solidarity with us to give girls a real choice over when they become mothers and live lives free from stigma, violence and exclusion.

Give girls a choice

over when they become mothers

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