Empowering the girl-child
This project basically centres on empowering the girl child to help curb teenage pregnancy in the Arusha region in Northern Tanzania. A teenager, or teen is a young person whose ages falls within the range of thirteen through nineteen (13-19). They are called teens simply because their age end in “teen”. Most traditional societies had a formal ceremony to mark the changes from childhood to adulthood. Adolescence is the transitional age of physical and psychological human development that generally occurs during the period of or on puberty to legal adulthood. The period of adolescence is closely associated with that of the teenager, though its physical, psychological and cultural expressions may begin earlier and end late. Teenage pregnancy is pregnancy in human female under the age of 20 years at the time when the pregnancy ends (the age of the mother is determined by the easily verified date when the pregnancy ends, not by the estimated date of conception). A pregnancy can take place in a pubertal female before menarche (the first menstrual period) which signal the period of fertility, but usually occurs after menarche. In well-nourished girls, menarche may take place around the age of 12 or 13 years.
In reporting teenage pregnancy rates worldwide, the number of pregnancies per 1000 females aged between 13 and 19 when the pregnancy ends, is generally used. According to Unicef Survey of 2015 approximately 15 million girls under the age of 20 years in the world have a child each year. The teenage pregnancy rates in Sub Saharan Africa stands at 143 per 1000 according to the survey.
Teenage pregnancy is dangerous and sometimes fatal. In developing countries it’s the leading cause of death for teenage girls, affecting in general the poorest girls in these countries. To make progress towards the Millenium Development Goal-reducing the under five mortality rate by two thirds-we must reduce teenage pregnancy, which all too often results in the death of two children (one, a newborn infant and the other a teenage mother). According to the SADC Gender Protocol Barometers (which Tanzania is a member state), early marriages is impeding girls progress and perpetuating gender inequality hence denying them their right to education and make informed decision about their future.
According to Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey, the teenage pregnancy rate rose from 23% in 2010 to 27% in 2016. Almost 2 out of 5 girls marry before they reach 18 and also 1 in 4 girls and women aged 15-19 become mothers. Human Rights Watch estimates that 8000 pregnant girls are expelled from school each year in Tanzania. Hence teen pregnancy is an important issue to be looked at given the rise of the number of girls dropping out of school and the negative aspects associated with it, for examples:
- Babies born to teen mothers are prone to suffer health, social and emotional problems than children born to older mothers.
- Women who become pregnant during their teens are at increased risk for medical complication such as miscarriages, Obstetric Fistula, premature labor and social consequences.
- Teenage mothers drop out of school as a result of the government banning girls who had been pregnant from attending school.
- Teenage mothers are prone to alcohol and substance abuse, lower educational level and reduced earning thus subjecting them to to poverty and STDs.
- Teenage pregnancies are associated with high infant mortality rate, low birth weight babies and maternal mortality rate for the teenage mothers.
To assess the extent to which the proposed project remedies the problems noted above,it will be necessary to quantify the results to measure the project effectiveness. The following are are the project objectives:-
- Increasing awareness on the essence of girl child education to the publicSome communities see women as reproductive objects and hence forcing the girls into early marriages and thus leading to the high rate of teenage pregnancies in the region. The public has to be sensitized on the importance of girl child education
- Sensitizing teenagers on the effects of teenage pregnancy Teenagers lack information on issues which are associated with teenage pregnancy, for example health complications both on the mother and the baby, therefore the need to sensitize them on the issue.
- Preventing teenagers from high degree of exposure to unprotected sex.Teenage need to be informed of the consequences which come with engaging in unprotected sex such as unwanted pregnancies and contracting sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS
- Encouraging the parents to talk to teens often about sex, morals and values.Due to the traditional beliefs that talking about sex is considered a taboo by many African communities, majority of teenage girls engage in sex thus resulting to the high teenage pregnancy rate. Therefore there is the need for parents to enlighten their young ones on issues about sex and moral values.
- Discouraging early dating for the young boys and girls. Young boys and girls enter into sexual relationship as a result of being exposed to sex related issues by the media, internet, negative role models and peer pressure hence gaining access to sexual content which in turn influence their sexual behaviour. Teens need to be informed on the consequences that arise from early sexual relationship.
The proposed project is comprised of several different, but related activities
- Education on absistence and dangers of premature and unprotected sexThis is going to be done by involving the community and schools to create awareness on the importance of talking to children about danger of early sexual relationships.
- Keeping them in school.The economic and social value of investing in girls empowerment needs to be emphasized. Communication activities aimed at changing the behaviour and attitudes of communities are key.
- Developing of counseling programs. This will include imparting parents and adults with the importance of educating their female children. Moreover, we will train teenagers in the field of counseling so they can help their fellow teenagers when needed, as young ones sometimes confide in friends than family.
- Initiation of after school programs. In order to keep the teenagers occupied after school, there is a need of creating recreational facilities for teenage, equipped with magazines, flip charts and newspapers so as to increase their knowledge and understanding.
- Legal empowerment seminars. Majority of women and girls don’t know their legal right as stipulated in the constitution, hence the need of empowering them on their rights so as to prevent them from abuses of their rights, for example girls right to education, freedom from violence/abuse and the right to refusal to early marriages.
- Use of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials. Various materials including calendars, posters, booklets, fliers and diaries shall be designed
In sum, helping girls see themselves as more than potential mothers and helping communities to do the same is key to reducing teenage pregnancy. Addressing educational and cultural barriers that limit girls’ options is a vital long term strategy.