The Eminyeeto Youth Empowerment Program is a community-based initiative in Ruhiira, Uganda, that builds capacity and strengthens financial and emotional empowerment of girls and young women. Eminyeeto aims to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation inflicted upon children and adolescents through cross-generational sex.
Our four main goals are to:
- Increase access to adolescent-friendly sexual and reproductive health information and services
- Improve mental health and wellbeing through a social and emotional learning curriculum
- Build economic empowerment through female-led enterprises and income-generating activities
- Promote peer support and mentorship
Through these components, our program aims to build youth capacity emotionally, socially and financially as well as to reduce the prevalence of various types of sexual coercion in the process. We seek to address specific challenges highlighted in our research team’s ethnographic assessment of adolescent self-agency and decision-making, especially with regard to sexual practices (i.e. cross-generational sex).
In collaboration with Dr. Milton Wainberg and Dr. Cady Carlson from the New York State Psychiatry Institute, we developed systems to incorporate feedback from the teachers and students that have participated in the program so far to ensure acceptability, feasibility, buy-in, and relevance to local context and culture; identified potential areas that require further modification or introduction of evidence-based materials; ascertained best ways to ensure quality-control in the facilitation of the intervention; and developed a scientifically sound questionnaire adapted to the local context from validated measures used to demonstrate the impact of SEL programs in the United States.