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Ending Child Marriage in Northern Uganda – Girls Decide

As we mark our 10th year of working for equality and justice in northern Uganda, we are excited to share our latest initiative: Ending Child Marriage, One Family at a Time.

The pursuit of gender justice starts with protecting young girls from being forced or sold into a marriage. Child marriage is a violation of human rights. Through education, support, intervention and dialogue, WGEF’s highly trained and respected Access to Justice team, along with the Healthy Periods Initiative, are working to end the practice of child marriage in northern Uganda. This is about equality, justice and the right of every child to grow up without fear or coercion. Girls are not property, and have full human rights, including the right to an education and freedom from violence.

Help us ensure every girl has the resources and support she needs to become her own woman, autonomous, free, and a productive member of society.

The Facts on Child Marriage:

  1. 1 in 5 girls globally are married before they are 18 – approximately 12 million girls per year.
  2. 68% of girls are married before the age of 18 in northern Uganda.
  3. The top 5 countries for child marriages are India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Brazil and Ethiopia.
  4. The top 5 Africa countries are Nigeria, Ethiopia, Niger, Central African Republic, and Mali.
  5.  Uganda is ranked 16th in listings by Global Citizen, but northern Uganda ranks close to the top across the continent.
  6. Child marriage is driven by poverty, lack of education, cultural and social mores.

Our Strategy to End Child Marriage:

WGEF believes this critical issue requires urgent action and an expanded focus to shift the negative trend and protect the lives and futures of millions of young women. It is against this backdrop that WGEF launched the Healthy Periods Initiative which enables young women to stay in school and manage their reproductive health care with dignity, ultimately leading to the reduction of child marriage and teen pregnancy. We are now highlighting and expanding the efforts of our Access to Justice Initiative to provide leadership and focus on these critical issues. Here is what WGEF is doing to end child marriage in northern Uganda:

  • Providing sanitary products, education and support to manage menstrual health for school girls.
  • Educating communities and working with law enforcement to enforce existing laws.
  • Developing a network of leaders and school official to identify vulnerable girls.
  • Hosting community and family dialogues, to mediate and discuss incentives to oppose child marriage.

Join our effort to ensure all girls have full agency to access their human rights and determine their own futures, without fear or coercion. Support our Access to Justice team and their commitment to end child marriage in northern Uganda.

Celebrating the Day of the African Child 2019

Human Rights Action in Africa: Children’s Rights First

On 16th June 2019 we joined partners to celebrate The Day of the African Child (DAC2019), celebrating children standing up for their rights and contributing to the future of the continent. It’s held to honor the thousands of children and students who marched in apartheid South Africa on 16th June 1976 to protest about the poor quality of their education. Many were shot, beaten and killed, and it led to the Soweto uprising against the apartheid regime, and resulting in global condemnation, and ultimately reversed and rid South Africa of Apartheid.

Uganda’s national celebrations were held at Acet primary school, which is part of WGEF’s HPI initiative providing school girls with monthly deliveries of local made sanitary product. Children all over Uganda marked the day by speaking out to claim their rights to education, healthcare and protection, and to highlight issues that affect their lives, including the theme: NO Reason NO Excuse Child Marriage Is an Abuse!

Primary school children came together to discuss their most important issues and raise them with politicians and local leaders. Many topics were discussed, under the leadership of schoolchildren Awacango Priscilla and Akena Joel, who acted as Speaker and Clerk of Parliament for the day. The day concluded with students/children presenting a petition to the Deputy Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament who was the Guest of honor, setting out highlights and recommendations from the Children’s Parliament.

WGEF conducted a menstrual health lab providing critical information and education to children, students, guests and elected official. Free  Lucky Girl sanitary pad packs were  provided to girls and guests.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Hon. Jacob Olanya inspected WGEF’s HPI exhibition tent and lab, applauding the important significance of the Healthy Periods Initiative and our efforts in contributing to gender equality in the education sector by supporting girls to fully access their right to education and human rights.

It’s about dignity, PERIOD.

Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019

Healthy Periods Initiative

Keeping Girls in School!

“I don’t miss school because of my period anymore. I like going to school because I don’t get embarrassed by students. All educated girls become contributors to their families and I want to be among them” 
Alice, Lucky Girls beneficiary

Addressing Menstrual Health Challenges

Sofia Akello from Gulu District had to drop out of school at primary 5 after she missed her final exams because of her period. “When I started menstruating, I had many hard days, she explains “I could not get myself any materials to use to stop myself from soiling my clothes, it was better for me to stay at home rather than go through that shame at school and that was the end of my education.

Thank you so much for the opportunity,
Sofia Akello, Healthy Periods Initiative beneficiary 

“I feel I have regained my pride as a young woman


Over the last two years, WGEF distributed over 2.5 million sanitary pads to 16 schools and 3 refugee camps across the region. Every month WGEF staff and a partnering doctor from Gulu University visit 16 schools, providing resources, critical information, and answering questions.

Healthy Periods Initiative: improving health and creating livelihoods – join us! 

Inspiring Interview, IWD 2019

To celebrate IWD 2019, WGEF interviewed Mercy Doreen, is a WGEF member and Women representative Nwoya District. Here are her inspiring words and ideas around being a leader:

What does being a leader mean to you?

To me being a leader meant that one that inspire/ exercise moral and ethical courage as well as setting his or her own rightful examples for the people that she leads them to follow.

Why is it important for women to be in positions of leadership?

When we have women in a leadership positions I greatly believe that there are so many benefits that the nation can achieve. It inspires women to believe in themselves that they too can done beyond what the culture preaches.

We women are soft in the heart (Empathetic) so they can have upper hand in bargaining and solving difficult situation than men issue which in the end can be of great benefits to all the community.

What changes when women have a seat at the table? 

More women are inspired to become leaders, hence fair hearing which balance the level of inequality between men and women.

There will be more peace within the homes/communities/entities and country at large because women bring in different perspectives and managing styles when handling a particular issue with high level of honesty.

 How has WGEF supported your leadership capabilities? 

First of all, it has really build strong self-esteem as initially I was a very shy and reserved lady. The exposure has really made me understand the hard conditions that other fellow ladies go through thus making me more understanding and accepting them just as they are.

I have improved on my listening skills, self-presentation, more flexible to change and build more team spirits. WGEF gave me an opportunity to speak publicly this took away all my fear to express my views while encouragement in doing other work for others.

Interview with Rose Okong

To celebrate IWD 2019, WGEF interviewed Rose Okong, a WGEF member and vice-chairperson and Women Representative. Here are her inspiring words and ideas around being a leader:

What does being a leader mean to you?

For me being in a leadership position, you are expected to look ahead and send voice out of my fellow women and my community means a lot to me. I feel proud that our community has started entrusting leadership to us women, this has shaped me as I aspire to leave by example and make sure that issues affecting my community especially women and children are prioritized.

What changes when women have a seat at the table?           

Women bring  unity because they love peace, and have better bargaining potential and skills when it comes to negotiations. Women are resilient and consistent therefor better decision makers.

How has WGEF supported your leadership capabilities?

WGEF empowered me with skills to unite and mobilise people in my community. Men and children to. I’m able to communicate in the meetings at the sub county where I represent my village because I have got the confidence that which I gained by participating with the different WGEF programs. By participating in WGEF’s Access to Justice program it gave me passion for leadership.