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Teenage pregnancy, a hindrance to women emancipation

28.03.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Jane Fonda, originally known as Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda, an American actress and political activist once quoted ‘’If adolescent pregnancy prevention is to become a priority, then our strategy, as advocates, must contain two key elements: civic engagement and education’’. The vulnerability of so many girls in the world, especially in low income or developing nations have exposed a significant number of girls to early and unwanted pregnancies, hence the surge in teenage pregnancy. Sub Saharan Africa is one of the most renowned regions where adolescent pregnancy is prevalent.

Teen pregnancy?

Just as the term teen sounds, defining teen pregnancy isn’t a complicated process. However, as coined by Wikipedia, Teenage pregnancy refers to a situation that directly involves female adolescents. These girls due to one reason or the other often get pregnant at the ages of 13 to 19. However, sometimes preteens (people under 13) can become pregnant as well.  Many, however, account for the prevalence of teen pregnancy in the world. A 2017 World Health Organization’s (WHO) release on adolescent or teen pregnancy, stated that girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years old make up 11% of births in the global scene.

The world health body reiterated that of the 11%, of adolescent births, 95%, are visible in Low to middle-income nations, South Africa inclusive. Not undermining the efforts made by various governments to curtail or stop teenage pregnancy especially in sub- Saharan Africa, The World Health organization voiced out that apart from contributing factors like poverty and underfeeding, teenage pregnancy still causes Mother and child mortality in present-day society.

The same WHO report said that per annum, some 16 million girls, age between 15 and 19 years old become pregnant while about one million girls under the age of 15 give birth. An additional three million girls undertake unsafe abortions each year. In a 2012 report, Uganda topped the number of teen pregnancies in East Africa.

Causes of Teenage Pregnancy

Some of the causes of teenage or adolescent pregnancy include;

  • Little knowledge of sexual or reproductive health
  • Poverty or peer pressure
  • Traditions or common beliefs that oblige girls to marry at a tender age
  • Inadequate education
  • Sexual abuse
  • Juvenile delinquency

Effects of teenage pregnancies

  • High chances of mother and child death
  • Stillbirth (a situation where a fetus dies some hours after being delivered)
  • Premature birth
  • Caesarean delivery or C-Section
  • School dropouts

Teenage pregnancies impede socio-economic development

Teen pregnancy presents a social problem globally and particularly in Africa. In as much as there is a gender imbalance in most African societies, the role of girls and women in boosting the social and economic transformation of the continent remains vital. This explains that an upsurge in adolescent pregnancies is a major setback to African governments. Governments can effectively harness its human capital which is mostly constituted of vibrant youths.

Efforts to curtail teenage pregnancies

After identifying teenage pregnancy as a major setback to women’s emancipation, completely curtailing it remains very unrealistic especially in conservative societies. However, various African governments have advocated ways to stop its prevalence. For example, in 2016, a report released by the ministry of gender and family promotion showed that about 17,000 teenage girls in Rwanda got impregnated in 2016 alone. This very alarming number pushed sexual and reproductive health activists to pressure the Rwandan government to implement the different approach in solving the social problem.

Human rights activists challenged the Rwandan government to disburse condoms to children of school going age as a means of curtailing adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmissible diseases. However, it was overlooked by school administrators, it also challenged religious beliefs against birth control.

Notwithstanding, the Kagame led government and some partners in 2018 launched a platform to address adolescent pregnancy in the country.  Dubbed ‘Girl2leader ‘national Campaign, the initiative backed by cabinet ministers, Members of Parliament and other stakeholders aimed to empower young girls to unravel their leadership potential and severe penalties for adults who defile and impregnate teenagers. The first launch brought together over three hundred (300) teenagers.

In a nutshell, strides are being made by existing NGOs and African governments to stop teen-age- pregnancies. In Ghana, ‘’Village Exchange Ghana, a community-based NGO  since 2008 has been offering support to young mothers and other youth in Ghana’s rural Volta region. Today, Ghana is listed amongst nations with a high number of Female Entrepreneurs.  In Zambia, ‘’IN&OUT’ of the ghetto also brings hope vulnerable youths through the pieces of training, making youth more engaged and productive in economic actives. Idleness at times exposes young girls to several sexual activities.

Also, many learning institutions, (mostly unconventional) that can accommodate school dropouts especially girls have gone operational to reduce the prevailing illiteracy rates.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has always outlined the role women can play lay in promoting socio-economic development of every society. Women constitute the bulk in informal sectors, as such if their potentials are fully harnessed through workshops, they will contribute a lot to Africa’s development.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Credit image : google image

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