Share Child Opportunity Eastern and Northern Uganda (SCOEN) is a female-led organization formed in 2010 by women’s rights and child welfare workers, activists, and professionals who were particularly concerned about the mistreatment of children and women as a result of the northeastern Uganda LRA conflict. The organization works in Soroti Distrct. The mission of the organization is to attain gender equality in local communities through promoting the social, political, educational, and economic participation of women and children in community development programs. The organization approaches the problem of child marriage utilizing a multi-dimensional approach – addressing education, gender based violence, social norms, and providing income generation opportunities.
With a Girls First Fund grant, SCOEN proposes to advance girls’ leadership by facilitating girls’ parliaments through which girls and young women can advocate with key stakeholders like police and child protection units to end child marriage at the community, sub-county, and district level. The girls’ parliament endeavors to strengthen the voice and choice of girls and young women and their status in two sub-counties of Soroti District. By providing adolescent girls and young women with training to lead and set up girls’ parliaments, the organization hopes to enable girls to become change agents and contribute to raising community awareness about children’s rights, child marriage, and women’s sexual reproductive health and rights. The parliaments will create a platform that promotes critical reflection and allows for questioning of beliefs, myths, and practices in order to realize a change in social norms, accelerating the reduction of child marriage.
SCOEN also plans to create a dialogue about gender equality and child marriage at the community level through use of video and voice recording of interested community members that share helpful stories, testimonies, ideas, experiences, and knowledge about child marriage. It is envisaged that this will create opportunities for productive community level discussions on early marriage and how it can be overcome.