The Queen of Bunyoro Kingdom, Omugo Margaret Karunga Adyeeri, has decried the rampant early marriages and teenage pregnancies, calling for concerted efforts to fight the vice.
“We need girls to grow into adulthood and complete their education cycle if they are to be of great value to our country,” Ms Karunga said while launching a campaign against early marriages in Masindi District at the weekend.
“When girls are supported to study and grow into adulthood, we build a nation and nurture a crop of responsible mothers, who will bring up another generation,” she added.
According to the 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey report, 25 per cent of adolescent girls of 15 to 19 years in the country have children.
The report attributed the rise in early child bearing to low education attainment among girls. The survey also indicated that about 61 per cent of Ugandan children below the age of 18 years had been married or were living in some form of union.
The campaign is also running alongside the first edition of the Omugo netball tournament where 50 teams in Bunyoro Sub-region are participating.
Ms Karunga said the kingdom would use the annual tournament to advocate for the rights of the girl child and women.
Ms Salaama Kugonza, the Masindi secretary for finance, who represented the district chairperson, lauded the Queen for the initiative and called for stakeholders to raise the education standards of Bunyoro.
The Queen also visited Ikoba Girls Secondary School where she launched the happy menstrual flow campaign.
Ms Karunga urged teachers, parents and students to support girls during their menstrual period and create a conducive environment for them to stay in school.
“Menstruation is healthy. Let us support girls during their menstruation period so that they are not laughed at, discouraged or made uncomfortable at school,” she said as she handed over a consignment of pads to the school.
She advised stakeholders to pay special attention to the poor and vulnerable children.
The Uganda National household survey report for the 2016/2017 financial year highlighted several cases of abuses against children. According to the report, a total of about two million children out of the 14 million aged 5-17 were engaged in some form of child labour. These constituted 14 per cent of all children nationally. More than 1,793,000 children aged 5 -13 (30%) were engaged in child labour; of these about 1.5 million were children aged 5 - 11 years engaged in child work while 289,000 were 12 - 13 years old children engaged in non-light work.