Helping Young Women in Uganda Manage Life's Challenges

Author: 
JGI-USA

Young women in Uganda are 9 times more likely than young men to contract HIV, making it critical that they have access to information about HIV/AIDS and to reproductive health services.

Our Peer Education Project in Uganda is addressing this urgent problem. Since 2008, with help from the Nike Foundation, JGI in Uganda has armed almost 180 girls from 50 schools with information related to HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases, and reproductive health. We also provide training in Life Planning Skills, designed to help girls successfully navigate the challenges of maturing into adulthood. The girls then go back to their schools and communities and share what they've learned with peers.

The Project provides participating schools with materials to help teachers guide students and inform them about these critical issues. These materials include pencils, pens and exercise books for girls whose families cannot afford scholastic materials, as well as hygiene supplies so girls won't feel the need to stay at home when they are menstruating.

Results have been stellar:

  • The peer educators are reaching an average of 10 pupils weekly and have counseled about 2,800 students, as well as teachers, parents and community members
  • Almost 380 girls have been persuaded to return to school in 13 different locales
  • The peer educators voluntarily extended their training to boys
  • Forty-seven schools have been stocked with exercise books, pencils, pens and packets of sanitary towels

The most recent workshop was held in March, "We saw the girls grow in confidence and the ability to express themselves over the 3 days," said Rachel Bitarabeho, JGI's peer education officer in Uganda. "What we're trying to do is create a foundation from which the girls can not only deal with life challenges but serve as an example and inspiration to other girls and boys their age."

JGI manages various community-centered conservation efforts in chimpanzee range areas throughout Africa. We are guided by Jane Goodall's conviction that the only way to create long-lasting conservation change is to help people address entrenched problems such as poverty and lack of education and health care.

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