Background

Young people’s sexuality may cause some problems if it is not properly addressed. In Rwanda, most teenagers have unprotected sex, rarely use contraceptives (CLADHO, 2016) . This may result in unwanted pregnancies, sexual transmissible Infections, child marriages, dropping out of school and premature parenthood. In most sub-Saharan countries, at least 10% of single teenagers of 18 years get pregnant unwillingly due to lack of information about reproductive health (WHO, 2013).

The unwed teen mothers encounter many difficulties, they receive less support from their families and communities, and sometimes have fewer resources to rise up and educate their children (CLADHO, 2016). In Rwanda, families have traditionally developed and still develop strong prejudice against those children. Many girls surrender themselves to precocious sexuality because of poverty. Some give up their studies for prostitution in order to satisfy their basic needs. Some girls are encouraged by their parents, their guardians, others accept to have sexual relations with their teachers in order to get school materials. 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 (Report of MINEDUC, 2013).

Sexual education is still at early stage in Rwanda; parents feel uncomfortable talking with children about sex, others become reluctant to expose their own lack of knowledge about sexual health. Likewise, it has been observed that many adults do not receive sexuality education themselves and that some have fear to expose their own negative sexual experiences. For this reason, adult family members tend to shy away from actively educating youth about issues relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

In this context, KEEPCARE RWANDA, pointed out that not providing information or evading young people’s questions can send negative messages about sexuality. By observation, sexual education trough schools and other sources of information such as mass media, churches, peers, fill this gap through the role played by each in youth sexual education. KEEPCARE RWANDA designed the project “KEEPING GIRLS SAFE” (KGS) for increasing the knowledge and raising the awareness of the unwed teenage mothers on topics of gender equality, sex and reproductive health and rights, and the use of family planning methods available in Rwanda. Secondly, the project is supporting socio-economically these unwed teenage mothers who are poor and some their kids suffer from malnutrition.  Indirectly, Keeping Girls Safe project will engage parents (adults) in sexual education and encourage them to educate their children and their peers.

This narrative report explains more and provides the highlights of the  3 days’ workshop training of 30 unwed teenage mothers conducted in order toincrease the knowledge on gender equality, prevention of

gender based violence, family planning methods, address the above mentioned problems and break the cultural barriers on adolescent sexual reproductive health and rights.

Training objectives

2.1 General objective

The general objective of the training workshop wasto build skills and capacity of unwed teen mothers on promotion of Gender equality, eradication of Gender Based Violence, promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and family planning.

2.2 Specific objectives

To explain
types/forms of  gender based
violence;

To inform unwed teen mothers the provisions of the
law preventing and punishing gender based violence in Rwanda;

To explain them why preventing early marriage and
unwanted pregnancies ;

To inform them the available services on family
planning ; and

To inspire unwed teen mothers for starting plans
for their future, through saving, entrepreneurship and other small business,
and

To assess the needs and main challenges for these unwed teen mothers.

CONCLUSION

We are grateful
KEEPCARE and Sponsors (HENNIE AND ROB) who helped us in the identification of
young women, for grouping them into association or groups for facilitating
exchange between them. Early pregnancy is the burden for our community.