Seventeen-year-old Eunice lives in Buyodi, a small village in Uganda on the border with Kenya. Every day, she cleans the house, collects fire wood, does the dishes, and collects water in a large container that she balances on her head, a task that requires a two-hour round-trip walk and often hurts her neck.
Eunice also walks an hour each way to school where she is currently in the equivalent of 9th grade. Asked what her greatest fear is, she replied, “I really fear getting pregnant, because I see how other girls who got pregnant suffer.” Eunice is currently using Sayana Press, a three-month contraceptive injection. “What inspired me to use family planning is I see so many other girls in this village who get pregnant…and when they get pregnant they can’t continue with school,” she said.
Eunice learned about reproductive health from her mother, Jackqueline, a community health volunteer trained by FHI360, a key USAID-funded service delivery organization. Jackqueline goes door to door providing contraceptive information and services to the approximately 1,000 people in her village.
Eunice shared her determination to follow a different path than that of so many other girls in her village and to chart a new course for future generations, saying, “For me, I’ve always wanted to complete school and come back to the village and discuss [reproductive health] with other girls.”
Eunice is not alone in her concern about getting pregnant. Uganda has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the world, with nearly a quarter of girls becoming pregnant or having a child by age 19. Further, one in three women in Uganda want to plan their next pregnancy but face barriers accessing contraceptives.
The United States, the largest government funder of global family planning programs, is stepping up to help girls like Eunice. The U.S. provides almost $14 million for family planning in Uganda, the backbone of the country’s reproductive health budget. The U.S. is also a major contributor to FHI360, the NGO that provided reproductive health education in Eunice’s village, and the UN Population Fund, which provides the bulk of the contraceptive commodities in Uganda.
Despite these critical investments, demand is still outstripping supply in Uganda. Countries like Uganda have long relied on donor countries to cover the cost of contraceptives, but today the world is facing a contraceptive crisis, with a funding gap of at least $847 million.
The international community, with the U.S. in the lead, has the opportunity to increase its support for international family planning programs in Uganda and other countries to ensure Eunice and every young woman around the world can choose when to become a mother, stay in school, and live healthy, empowered lives. Click here to learn more and take action.
“What inspired me to use family planning is I see so many other girls in this village who get pregnant … and when they get pregnant they can’t continue with school.”