The use of stories for change narratives by grass-roots organizations is an advocacy strategy that may need to adapt with the increasing numbers of young people on social media given how much power our stories hold to influence perspectives and offer to learn.
With an increasing number of teenage pregnancy across districts in Uganda with many young people speaking up about lack of information as the top list influencer behind these numbers given that in today’s modern society parents are too occupied with jobs to make ends meet leaving no time to have conversations on body autonomy, sexual health, mental health to name a few with their children, this has created gaps that have contributed to the rising number of teenage pregnancies among teenagers ad youths Uganda.
It’s because of these gaps that Winnie Akidi Adile together with her friends founded what only started as a girl online meet up conversation that transformed into an entity dubbed WETALK SERIES UGANDA, a female-led and youth-serving initiative that spearheads digital advocacy using advocacy documentaries, stories for change (storytelling) and sign language to influence and amplify young people’s voices on sexual reproductive health, leadership, and livelihood.
With our approaches we have focused on using basic media resources to convey sexual reproductive health information and mentorship to young people through the existing social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, sign language documentaries, and grass-root community storytelling to convey menstrual health management info to students.
With the passion and zeal to influence and transform fellow young people’s lives, The young people that make up the WEtalk series Uganda team I aid to give back to society resorted to self–funding various activities inclusive of the bi-weekly live conversation’s on myth breaking, girls drive for education, community outreaches and various youth plenary sessions that informed youth participation in various national platform to air out their opinions in joint programs aimed at advocating for inclusive platforms and young people’s health priority given the growing national statistics on teenage pregnancy, rape/ defilement, child marriages and lack of quality service delivery that meets the needs of these teenagers and young people with an aim of telling young people’s stories.
Today the WETALK team is proud to have created a youth safe platform like the “Youth JamUg” monthly meet up that has reached out and empowered over 5000 young people with skills and ability to air out their challenges on sexual reproductive health and leadership, a community girls drive for education front-lining the boy child as ambassadors to speak up and advocate for the girl child wellbeing.
With the youth jam program, we have been able to mentor over 50 young persons with disabilities to become change champions and advocates on ending teenage pregnancy and child marriages among disabled communities.
I used to think advocacy and activism were for only social workers not until I realized the challenges young people as I face in rural communities needed to be aired out and solutions found by us the very same young people facing it. It is at the point of actualization and lied realities at campus finding girls crying in bathrooms after surviving rape or any other youth issues like poverty and mental breakdown, that I realized I needed not to be a social worker to be able to offer a solution but figure out how I was a student of technology could use digital spaces ad platforms to speak up and advocate for the plight of young people on sexual reproductive health focusing on ending rape/defilement, sexual reproductive health, teenage pregnancy and child marriage integrating the aspect of disability inclusion.
Says Winnie Akidi Adile. Founder WETALK SERIES UGANDA
Given the current situations resulting from the global pandemic, with schools having been closed for over 12months, many girls have fallen victims of defilement, rape, and teenage pregnancy during the lockdown with over 3000 girls getting pregnant, and the 2020 police report showing over 14000 girls defiled in 2020 with a breakdown of 120 girls defiled by parents,120 by guardians,125 children with disability, 55 defiled by teachers(students), 52 by teachers(pupils) and 301 by persons living with HIV. These statics leave the plight of the girl child at an edge showing how communities have deemed it unsafe for children to leave in given that some cases are never reported since justice most times isn’t served.
To curb this currently, WEtalk Series Uganda is running a storytelling campaign and school outreach using storytelling to help have the young girls open up ad speak about these issues.
We are happy to continue reaching out and serving our fellow young people because we believe together we can inspire generations by sharing what we know from our different professions and working together using communication fronting digital media and storytelling as the best way to relate information and foster youth development in communities through peer to peer digital approaches.