Meet Norah the Y-Hero

Noarh Sukusu Malinga giving a speech during the Heroes for Gender transformative Action Program Launch

Norah Sukusu, from Kween district is 21 years old. She is one of the early heroes of the Heroes for Gender Transformative Action Programme who has come out to speak boldly about the ills of sexual reproductive health violations going in Kween. When she met with the Heroes Programme team in her community, she volunteered to be part of the peer educators. She was subsequently enrolled on the programme and trained.

Then she delivered her experience on what she has been seeing in her community. Forced to marry early herself, Norah says that in her community, young girls have no right to anything. They cannot own land, keep the money they have worked for or decide on how to use the resources in the family. She adds that girls and women are treated as commodities that have to be exchanged for bride price and on you are married off, you cannot return home.

Besides, girls are subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM), which is painful and results in several health complications. What hurts her most is that the boys and men have it all. They even take what should have been for the girls. She says that this situation must be challenged, she adds boldly. Unlike Norah, many girls in hardto-reach-districts of Uganda are unable to stand and speak out boldly. They are suffering sexual and gender-based violenc (SGBV) and several sexual reproductive health and rights violations, which are underpinned by gender negative norms and values. The violations have manifested as FGM, teenage pregnancy which results from early and force marriage of children.

“It is sad to see girls my fellow young girls experience female genital Mutilation, exploitation and teenage pregnancies because they have cut short their lives and aspirations for the future – It is their right to be free from the negative societal and cultural norms. They must be protected now!” Norah, A youth heroin Kween district

The Heroes programme whose goal is “All young girls, boys, and women in Uganda should fully enjoy their sexual and reproductive health & rights and live in a gender-equal society free from SGBV” is empowering young women such as Norah with information and decision skills to escape SGBV. The programme is also improving health services in 9 hard to reach district of Bugiri, Iganga, Mayuge, Namayingo, Kween, Bukwo, Budaka, Mbale and Kalangala so that the can offer rights based services. The programme is also promoting respect of sexual reproductive health and rights for all among communities and duty bearers so that girls like Norah can be protected from such violations.

For girls, women who face violations, the programme is creating a supportive environment through a multisectoral approach involving healthcare, protection, justice law and order as well as psychosocial support actors to enable access to care and justice. This work is implemenetd by consortium which includes Amref Health Africa, Cordaid, MIFUMI and ICRW. The funding is from the Netherlands Embassy in Uganda.