The Bukwo District Women MP, Ms Evelyne Chemutai, has launched a campaign against early child pregnancy.
Addressing journalists last Thursday, Ms Chemutai said early pregnancy is a problem which, if not fought, will undo the successes the country has registered in promoting women emancipation.
“In Bukwo District, it is common to see a child carrying a baby on their back. Most of our girls get married before their 18th birthday,” she said.
“This is unacceptable. The other day, a Primary Seven pupil in Luweero District was allegedly defiled by her teachers. She developed complications when they tried to help her abort. My fellow MPs are following up this case and have instructed police to play its part,” she added.
According to the 2011 Uganda demographic and health survey report, one of four girls in Uganda aged between 15 and 19 is already a mother or pregnant with her first child. The same survey shows that teenage pregnancy causes deaths or disability of thousands of girls and newborns annually.
Another survey carried out by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics in the same year showed Uganda’s teenage pregnancy rate stands at 24 per cent.
Ms Chemutai has partnered with organisations such as White Ribbon Alliance to fight against what she calls the “next big fight for the girl child after female genital mutilation.”
She contends that projects such as ‘Let Girls Learn’ may not achieve their intended goals if children are being turned into mothers. She wants Parliament to approve the establishment of a forum to help address issues affecting the girl-child.
“There is need to extract the problem of child or early pregnancies from the pool of issues affecting the youth in general and instead give it a spotlight,” Ms Chemutai said.
“The forum will enable MPs share ideas on issues affecting the girl-child especially those relating to education, sexual and reproductive health as well as adolescent pregnancy,” she said.
Taking the battle to the House
She further said she will move a motion seeking Parliament to debate the issue of teenage pregnancy and task concerned government ministries to implement the laws aimed at steming the vice.
Recently, more than 120,000 citizens petitioned the Prime Minister asking for interventions aimed at reducing teenage pregnancies in the country. The petition was handed over to the Prime Minister during just concluded National Youth Dialogue.
The National Coordinator White Ribbon Alliance Uganda, Ms Robina Biteyi, said reducing teenage pregnancy will increase Uganda’s chances of reducing maternal mortality.