“A total of 98,810 girls (aged 10-24) got pregnant during Covid-19 lockdowns and school closures between March 2020 and June 2021.”
– UNICEF –
All over the world, CSOs, governments and individuals celebrated the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11th 2021 under the theme; “Digital Generation Our Generation”. Campaigns and Hashtags were trending all over social media as the world recognized girls’ rights and the unique challenges they face.
The same applied to the Nnabagereka Development Foundation as the day’s events revolved around the hashtags; #GirlsTakeOver and #InspireHer. Here The Foundation partnered with World Vision to give girls a glimpse of hope as they took over top offices in the Buganda Kingdom structures.
Nnaabagereka hands over office to 10 year old
As early as 8:00am, October 11 2021, HRH Nnaabagereka Sylvia Nagginda, the Queen of the Kingdom of Buganda, handed over her office to 10 year old Abriel Trea Namakula. In light of the day’s celebrations, Namakula was given the opportunity to address the press.
In her speech as the Nnaabagereka (Queen), Namakula excitedly said the opportunity made her see how much power every girl can wield when given the chance to realize their full potential.
“Giving us the right to education, and treating us like you treat boys, will do much to realize this goal. I therefore call upon equal treatment of all children and education of the girls.” said Namakula.
She then urged all duty bearers to ensure girls digital adoption by guaranteeing safety and easy access of the internet.
HRH Nnabagereka Sylvia Nagginda hailed Namakula for her courage and charisma as she took on her role as Queen of Buganda for the day and also urged parents and influential people to continue creating opportunities of inspiration for all the young girls out there.
Girls from across Buganda and Uganda held traditional Ganda dance to celebrate and focus on investing in girls. HRH Nnabagereka Sylvia Nagginda officiated at the event which was joined by locals, rights leaders and activists as well as government officials.
Nakiyingi takes over BBS television
Later we witnessed another girls’ take over moment as Angel Nakiyingi a S2 student from St Julian High School Lugazi took over as CEO BBS Television from Eng. Patrick Ssembajjo. In her speech Angel highlighted the digital gap and how ithas affected so many children’s education.
“Even though the government keeps encouraging online learning and putting resources in newspapers, some houses can barely afford food let alone newspapers and TVs” says Nakiyingi.
To this, she called upon government to consider reopening of schools as so many children are falling behind on school and some are facing abuse and neglect. She later led the team to anchor the 12pm news “Gambuuze’ to conclude the day’s events.
Why Girls’ Take Over?
It is with no doubt that the continued closure of schools in Uganda has greatly affected the country’s children with many of them feeling rather hopeless. According to data by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), the educational impact of Covid-19 globally shows that schools in Uganda have been closed for more than 77 weeks, close to 20 months, and counting.
Making Uganda the country that has closed schools longest in the world.
Behind the missed school days lays a bigger challenge for the country’s school children, a shadow crisis, as the media keeps reporting more cases of child neglect and physical, sexual, and psychological abuse.
Unicef further reports that the impact of COVID 19 on School going Girls and Young Women in Uganda between March 2020 and June 2021, is a 22.5 per cent increase in pregnancy among girls aged 10-24 seeking first antenatal care from 80,653 to 98,810.
It is for this reason that The Foundation dedicated the day’s activities to inspiring girls and giving them a feel of how much they can achieve, if they set their minds to it. The activities also emphasized that girls are a fundamental source of transformational change for gender equality, and technology is a crucial tool to support their work, activism and leadership