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She Can - Collaborative Approaches to Women’s Rights

Utilizing health workshops to equip young women with the tools they need to advocate for their own sexual and reproductive rights.

Photo of Courtney Tucker
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What specific problem(s) are you trying to address?

Our target group, young women aged 15-19, is one of the most vulnerable in Uganda, especially those living in rural areas like Luwero District where access to education and health care services is limited. In Uganda, the teen pregnancy rate is 25% and at least two young women are infected with HIV every hour of every. single. day. Teen pregnancy and STIs pose a direct threat to the educational attainment and successful livelihood outcomes of teen girls. Ugandan girls also face high risks of gender-based violence: one in five women will experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. Shanti Uganda seeks to empower young women to understand their rights as individuals so they can advocate for themselves and their interests.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address?

Our current challenge is scaling the project to reach more teen girls in Uganda. We lack the capital and resources to create a project that extends beyond the community we currently serve. To scale our project, we need funding to cover operational costs. In addition, we seek a robust teacher-training course to ensure that our facilitators are equipped with the knowledge and know-how to deliver the best workshops possible by catering to the unique needs of each individual girl participant.

Explain Your Idea

Shanti Uganda aims to eradicate the challenges faced by teen girls in Uganda through participatory, three-day workshops which are facilitated by trained healthcare professionals and community development workers. The plans for these workshops resulted from in-depth discussions with key stakeholders who identified teen pregnancy as one of the most pressing obstacles for future women leaders. To date, Shanti Uganda has provided 19 workshops for 438 teen girls. The participants begin by participating in icebreaker activities that encourage them to get to know their peers and become comfortable with the learning process. For the duration of the workshop, the participants work alongside the facilitator (a Senior Midwife) to learn about topics such as life skills development, goal setting, sexual health and reproductive rights, gender-based violence and healthy relationships. By using a variety of methods including role play, question and answer and small group discussions, the facilitator encourages girls to share their experiences and learn from each other. To reach more young girls and work toward a safer, equal Uganda in which young women are respected and able to advocate for themselves, we seek to expand these workshops to a wider geographical area and build local capacity by educating facilitators through a train-the-trainer course. These facilitators serve as mentors for the participants as they learn about their experiences advocating for women's rights.

Name the three most important ways that your idea will address your identified problem(s).

1. Using curriculum that was created by local community leaders and healthcare workers, it will equip at least 360 girls with the evidence-based knowledge they need to understand and advocate for their personal development and sexual and reproductive health. 2. It will ensure sustainability and community ownership by building local instruction capacity. This will be achieved through thorough train-the-trainer programs which will expand as funding and resources increase. 3. It will create an empowered generation. Through its target audience of 360 teen girl participants, this project has the potential to reach more than 2,880 community members who will become well-versed on the rights, health and well-being of young women in East Africa.

How is your idea unique?

-Participatory approaches to learning: Our curriculum utilizes a hands-on, participant-centered approach which actively engages the teen girls and encourages them to explore their unique abilities. Through team building games, sanitary pad-making and other empowerment activities, the girls are physically and mentally involved in the learning process rather than sitting by as passive onlookers. -Certified and trained health facilitators: Our workshops are facilitated by certified Midwives and medical professionals who share fact-based knowledge. In addition to their medical knowledge, they will undergo intensive educational workshops which will equip them with techniques and methods that cater to a variety of learning styles. -Proven track record: Our existing curriculum has been developed, tested and improved by community leaders. To date, Shanti Uganda has reached 438 girls through 19 workshops and supported the creation and dissemination of more than 900 reusable sanitary pads.

Who are your end users?

Shanti Uganda hopes to reach girls aged 15-19 in Uganda who are both enrolled in school and out of school. By working alongside girls from a variety of ethnic and cultural traditions, education levels and family experiences, girls will learn to appreciate and uplift their peers to work toward a future community of collaborative young Ugandan women leaders. Each workshop will have a target of 30 participants and Shanti Uganda aims to host 12 workshops each year for a grand total of 360 teen girl participants per year. As they carry and live by the information they receive from the workshops the participants will reach nearly 3,000 community members. Additionally, we will train at least two facilitators and grow as resources are available.

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Uganda

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Prolonged displacement
  • Extreme drought
  • Epidemic
  • Other

Tell us more about the emergency setting that you intend to implement in

Uganda is a diverse country and has experienced a variety of threats to both local and national security. The current catchment area, Luwero, was the site of political violence and civil strife prior to the beginning of the current political regime. We aim to reach vulnerable teen girls in emergency settings like the refugee camps in Northern Uganda and the communities in the northeast who face harsh famine and drought. The workshops will be tailored to the specific needs of each locale.

What is your organization's name?

The Shanti Uganda Society

Tell us more about you.

Shanti Uganda improves maternal and infant health throughout Uganda. We imagine a world where all women have access to a midwife and are respected, empowered and able to thrive throughout the birth process. Supporting over 1,300 births and impacting over 46,000 lives throughout Uganda to date, Shanti Uganda’s proven model of success is poised to scale to impact more women and girls throughout Uganda. With a strong team of 18 staff, a dedicated board of directors and a long-standing Ugandan Advisory Board, Shanti Uganda is a women-led organization with exceptional results. Our team includes seasoned experts in the areas of maternal health, midwifery, international development and social enterprise.

Organizational Characteristics

  • Women-led organization
  • Locally/community-led organization
  • International/global organization

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • Community - 1+ communities within 1 country

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • Yes, for more than a year.

Organization Location

-Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Registered Canadian Charity -Nsasi Village, Luwero District, Uganda: Registered Ugandan NGO and Licensed Medical Facility

What is your organizational status?

  • Registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Roll-out/Ready to Scale: Completed a pilot and am ready / in process of expanding.



Join the conversation:

Photo of Nicole Seters

Hello Natalie and the Shanti Uganda team! So good to see you here. Would love to collaborate on this and the Sunrise Girl's Empowerment Program (we are also participating in this challenge). Look forward to speaking more about how our school, clinics and organizations can partner up and ripple out. With Love and Light Nicole (Founder & Director Sunrise Centre Uganda).

Photo of Courtney Tucker

Hey Nicole! We look forward to collaborating. Best of luck!