UNFPA puts efforts in curbing girl pregnancies

UNFPA puts efforts in curbing girl pregnancies


THE United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) announced yesterday it will commit its investments this year to reach millions of marginalised adolescent girls at risk of early and child pregnancy as part of empowering the group to achieve their dreams.

Tanzania demographic health survey released this year shows teenage girls aged between 13 -19 years were still at greater risk of child pregnancy especially if they are not educated.

The figures indicate at least 42per cent of teenagers who had no primary education have had a live birth at the age below 19. Furthermore, 26.8 percent and 7.5 percent of teenagers who had primary and secondary education respectively had also a live birth during the period under review.

Mr Samwel Msoka, UNFPA Programme Manager said the figure means less teenagers participate in production activities–thus have little contribution on the national economy. “This is the challenge and we must tackle it,” he said.

He said the UN agency will put much concentration in the lake zone where cases of female genital mutilation (FGM)–a serious cause of early pregnancies and marriage were still high.

Minister for Health, Community Development, Elders and Children Ummy Mwalimu is expected to preside over the world population day next Monday, where UNFPA said this year’s celebration will be themed by “Investing in teenage girls.”

Speaking to reporters in the city, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director for UNFPA said the celebration will underscore the relevance of investing in teenage girls in Tanzania.

In Tanzania, the focus is to empower teenage girls through education, protection and information about sexual and reproductive health and rights so that they can be prepared for future employment.

“The new development agenda calls on us to leave no one behind. To reach those furthest behind, leaders and communities must focus on and stand up for the human rights of the most marginalised teenage girls, particularly those who are poor, out of school, exploited, or subjected to harmful traditional practices, including child marriage.” “Marginalised girls are vulnerable to poor reproductive health and more likely to become mothers while still children themselves.

They have a right to understand and control their own bodies and shape their own lives,” she noted. Tanzania ranks 9th globally in terms of adolescent pregnancies.

Teenage girls around the world face more and greater challenges than their male counterparts. Channelling investments to teenage girls responds to their needs and rights. It also corresponds to the sustainable economic growth aims of the nation.

When a teenage girl has the power, the means and the information, she is more likely to make good decisions in life and realise her full potential, the UN official said. Adding: “she becomes a positive force in her home, community and nation.

Policies that lead to investment in education and health and those that create economic conditions that lead to decent jobs are particularly important in countries with large, emerging youth populations like Tanzania.”

Teenage girls, she said, are central to the future development agenda, adding that safeguarding their rights and investing in their future by providing quality education, decent employment, effective livelihood skills, and access to sexual and reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education is essential to their development, saying that it also improves the well-being of their families, communities and countries.

“There are more adolescents in Tanzania today than ever before, and their numbers are projected to grow rapidly over the next decade,” she concluded. Dr Natalia Kanem, Country Representative for the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) Tanzania admitted that too many of these girl’s pregnancies has little to do with choice. It is often rooted in ignorance, gender inequality, and forced marriage, lack of education, sexual violence and coercion.

Its consequences reverberate throughout the life of the girl and for generations to come, she said. “Rescuing girls is the right thing to do. It’s also the smart thing to do. Empowering girls through education, protection and information may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world,” said the UNFPA country representative.

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