You are currently viewing What’s the answer to teenage pregnancies?

What’s the answer to teenage pregnancies?

OUR country has for a long time been afflicted by teenage pregnancies which have now reached alarming and crisis levels, according to a statement issued by government.
Many interventions have been sought in order to arrest the situation, but nothing much in terms of results has been achieved because the numbers of teenage pregnancies have been rising.
According to a Millennium Development Goal (MDG) report published in 2013, over 30 percent of 15-19-year-old girls in Zambia have already been pregnant or have had a child.
The report indicated that early marriage and adolescent pregnancy were the two main triggers for the high maternal mortality rate in the country.
Further statistics reveal that about 42 percent of Zambian women are married before the age of 18 and that 38 mothers, mainly teenagers, die each month due to complications relating to pregnancy and childbirth.
Many stakeholders’ civil society organisations have called for the scaling up of political will in reducing teenage pregnancies in the country. I also want to add my voice on the issue, especially that we celebrated youth day recently.
Young girls should be valued as a virtue and government should take the lead to ensure that they complete their education and are inspired to be economically empowered by creating an enabling environment.
We should note that as long as girls are still dropping out of school because of pregnancies and child marriages, it will be very difficult for Zambia to aspire to realise the  Vision 2030.
Teenage pregnancy has now become a menace to our society and ending it is a struggle that needs to receive as much attention and focus as the struggle against HIV.
I am calling on all leaders from the church, private and public sectors, politicians – especially in our country – to use their strategic advantage to take up this issue seriously and ensure that, as a nation, we come to terms with reality so that we can enforce a permanent solution to this problem.
I fully understand that making available condoms and other contraceptives to the young men and women to prevent them from unwanted pregnancies is one of the most controversial issues in our country but I think this will be the most effective way of curbing teenage pregnancies.
We need to understand and accept that many youths are engaging in sex, and by not providing them with this information, the number of girls becoming mothers before the right time.
We are a Christian nation, but we also have an obligation to protect our adolescents from the resulting effects of teenage pregnancies by giving them real options.
While I say so, I do not mean to encourage immoral behaviour among the learners but just to ponder on the option that will help prevent teenage pregnancies.
What is important is to furnish these young girls with appropriate moral information on the repercussions of engaging in sex and also provide them with the means to protect themselves if they decide to.
Currently our laws allow for 16-year-olds to get married and, therefore, information and tools such as condoms and contraception should be made available to these teenagers.
Reports of young girls dropping out of school or accessing unsafe abortions and being married off have become almost a permanent feature in our news headlines and little effort is being made to curb these vices because we are too scared to make certain decisions.
I want to say the time to act and stop teenage pregnancies is now. Let us make condoms in schools available to those teens who are above the age of 16 so that we can preserve their lives and the future of our country.
The author is a Christian humanism activist and a member of ZICA.