BACKGROUND OF THE PROJECT
Teenage pregnancy occurs in all societies, with considerable variation in magnitude and consequences among different countries and regions. In each case, a variety of complex socioeconomic factors are involved including poverty, communities and families acceptance of child marriage, culture behaviors, gender inequality, sexual violence, lack of education and information among others.
Teen pregnancy is not only a health issue, but also a human right and development issue. Pregnancy undermines a girl’s ability to exercise her rights to education, health and autonomy. It also prevents her from realizing her potential and adversely impacts the baby. A country’s economy is also affected by teenage pregnancies as adolescent mothers are prevented from entering the workforce.
Based on a UNFPA‘s State of World Population 2013 report: Motherhood in Childhood – Facing the challenge of adolescent pregnancy, more than 7 million girls in poor countries give birth before 18 each year.
The report shows that out of the 7.3 million births worldwide, 2 million are girls 14 years old or younger, who suffer the gravest long-term health and social consequences from pregnancy, including high rates of maternal death and obstetric fistula.
The report indicated that early pregnancy takes a toll on a girl’s health, education and rights. It also prevents her from realizing her potential and adversely impacts the baby. A country’s economy is also affected by teenage pregnancies as adolescent mothers are prevented from entering the workforce.
Several possible solutions to deal with the challenge of adolescent pregnancy were also highlighted in the report. The main one was changing the attitude and actions of the society in which a girl lives such as keeping girls in school, stopping child marriage, changing attitudes about gender roles and gender equality, increasing adolescents’ access to sexual and reproductive health, including contraception and providing better support to adolescent mothers.
Regionally, the adolescent child bearing is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 50 % of adolescent girls give birth by age 20 (WHO 2010) statistics .
In Rwanda, despite all efforts, measures and actions put in place to fight teenage pregnancy, young Rwandan girls have also been affected by teen pregnancy, although to a lesser extent that other sub-Saharan countries. However, this is still a very real challenge for girls especially in the pursuit of education and skills that increases success rates. The early child bearing and teenage pregnancy is one of the more pervasive problems affecting the health, social, economic and political progress and empowerment of women and girls.
According to RDHS 2010 six percent (6%) of students girls aged between 15 and 19 years old have started bearing children. Having this high number, the Government uncovers a big challenge to Rwanda’s education in the family.
Similarly, 2011 figures from the Rwanda Education Ministry indicate that Western Province had the highest number of adolescent pregnancies, with 177 cases recorded. It was followed by Northern Province with 141 cases, Southern Province 130, Eastern Province 110 and Kigali with 56.
The latest Gender Based Violence (GBV) in school report of MINEDUC 2014 says that 522 unwanted pregnancies among girls between 10 and 18 years were registered last year in schools countrywide.
Current researches show a strong relationship between poverty and teenage pregnancies with teenage girls in the poorest quintile being three times more likely to have a child before age 18 years compared to girls in the wealthiest quintile.
Based on this situation, KEEPCARE RWANDA tended to implement IMBERE HEZA project in community to support the teenager mothers’ future by improving their standards of living through socio-economic empowerment, building their skills and capacity in entrepreneurship and income generating activities.
Major Challenge In Situation
In Rwanda, current researches show a strong relationship between poverty and teenage pregnancies with teenage girls in the poorest quintile being three times more likely to have a child before age 18 years compared to girls in the wealthiest quintile. In spite the commitments and services offered to unwed teenage mothersby government and partners, some are still abandoned by their families and they have no food, no health insurance for accessing easily medical care and health services for them and to their babies.
Teenage pregnancies are attributed to the social economic hardships experienced by the vulnerable groups in the slum settings and marginalized communities that have kept their cultural traditions. Pregnant young girls attending school end up terminating classes due to stigma from peers, neighbors and close family members. The stigmatization negatively impacts on the psychological wellbeing of the teenage girl, leading to denial in the family, poverty and helplessness. The affected teenage girls end up leaving their family home opting to going it alone and or staying with relevant groups in the streets or slum dwellings whereby they are involved in various kinds of illegal activities which includes drug abuse, joining illegal sect groups , prostitution and substance abuse. They find themselves in unfamiliar world of parenting with no skills to enable them join the difficult job market and this leaves them hopeless and vulnerable. The countries need the institution and organization that takes care of teenage mothers, their children and other vulnerable girls so that they can grow into responsible citizens.
The support to teen mothers by increasing their skills and knowledge about financial education and life skills can reduce the burden especially those teen from rural area. Psychosocial counseling and behavior change of some cultures norms and myth towards teen mothers can reduce the social exclusion.
To rehabilitate, build capacity and improve the standards of living of teenage mothers.
To assess the needs of teen mothers living in Nyaruguru, Nyamagabe and Huye districts;
To increase the knowledge of 200 unwed teenage mothers about Gender based violence and sexual reproductive health;
To build the capacity of 200 unwed teenage mother son creation and management of Income generating activities;
To sensitize and facilitate teen mothers to return to school;
To provide psychosocial support to 200 unwed teenage mothers and ;
To educate and engage parents and communities of Huye, Nyaruguru, Nyamagabe and Huye district to initiate opportunities for positive youth development and involvement;
ENHANCE SEX EDUCATION FOR REDUCING TEEN PREGNANCIES -URUHWITURIRO PROJECT
In almost all societies in the world, sex is the topic that is least spoken about by members of a family. Teenagers who experience physiological and other changes often find it difficult to discuss this experience with their parents and /or siblings. In need of information, teenagers turn to their peers for guidance or seek information from books, magazines, articles, video and the like. Note that some information obtained from these sources are incorrect and increases the risk for young people. Unwanted pregnancies are a social problem that has existed for a long time in many societies such as Rwanda for the young girls.
During pre-colonial time, in Rwanda, pregnant girls were ostracized and taken to Ijwi Island (island located in Kivu Lake separating Rwanda and the Republic Democratic of Congo).The majority of those girls died because of precarious conditions such as lack of food and medicine. Others by chance could find husbands from Congo and stayed there. Early pregnancies can give rise to incessant problems between parents and pregnant girls. Moreover, they cause problems to those teenagers themselves and to their children. They even cause many problems related to social prejudice, psychological trauma, depression, etc. Further, illegal children (children from unmarried parents) have no chance of growing in normal conditions or in good health such as getting good food, being educated and getting medicine when they get sick. In Rwanda, families have traditionally developed and still develop strong prejudice against those children. It is true that many factors put young girls in precarious situations and expose them to precocious pregnancy. Many girls surrender themselves to precocious sexuality because of poverty. Some give up their studies for prostitution in order to satisfy their economic needs. Some girls are encouraged by their parents, their
guardians or their employers, others accept to have sexual relations with their teachers in order to get good marks.
To get rid of unwanted pregnancies, many young girls very often resort to abortion. Most of the time, they throw their newborn babies into toilets.
In many instances, teens said that the potential disapproval of their families and congregations if they became unwed mothers played a role in the decision stigma attached to being pregnant.
Complications from abortion are the main causes of young girls’ deaths in many societies like in Rwanda where abortion is illegal or severely restricted.
Some of the reasons put forward by young girls who opt for abortion are that they got pregnant against their will and feel that they are not able to rear their children, they fear community sanctions and the shame associated with pre-marital childbearing. They don’t want an out-of-marriage child and have financial problems. KEEPCARE agrees that addressing these problems requires creating an atmosphere characterized by openness at the household and community levels; providing avenues in and out of school for teaching adolescents ways of protecting themselves; providing the services they need, for example to prevent pregnancy; and providing counseling concerning sexual relationships. By adopting these strategies, it will be possible to reach young people early with information and services.
Adolescent/Teenagers young people today receive different, and sometimes confusing, messages about sexuality and gender, and they are exposed to sexually explicit content through the internet and other media. Many parents and other important adults find it difficult, or disapprove of discussing sexual matters with their children. Adolescent are increasingly becoming sexually mature and active at an earlier age. There are some myths and controversies around sexual education say that:
“Children are not ready for this kind of information”;
“sexual and health education promotes early sex”;
“sexual and health education makes young people promiscuous”;
“sexual and health education does not fit with our Rwandan culture/religion”;
and “Young people should abstain from sex until marriage”.
It is the fact that unwanted pregnancies increase among teenagers.
KEEPCARE designed URUHWITUTIRO Project for sex education for in school or out school adolescents and the parents.
To create Keepcare clubs in 6 secondary schools in Huye and Nyanza district, which are committed to promoting gender equality and ending sexual and gender-based violence in schools and communities.
Objective 1: To strengthen the capacity of 300 students in peer mentorship on the topics of promoting gender equality and ending GBV through 6 effective Keepcare clubs in 6 schools in Nyanza and Huye district within the 12 months of the project
Objective 2: To increase the capacity of 300 teachers, parents and community members in the targeted 6 schools to provide active support to students in promoting gender equality and ending GBV in their communities and schools.
Objective 3: To increase the knowledge and perception of Communities from 3 cells in the surrounding 6 schools on the roles of parents in promoting gender equality, prevention of GBV and providing sex and reproductive health to the children;
Objective 4: To take back to school all girls drooped out school because of GBV and or early pregnancy.