INVEST IN TEENAGE GIRLS

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Photo with courtesy of http://motherhow.com/teenage-pregnancy-facts-you-should-know/

By Kenneth Simbaya
Partners in Population and Development (PPD) has advised that investing in adolescent girls through educating them, and informing them about their health being in their control is a smart economic move for any nation.

PDD said that the well-being of adolescent girls is a key to eliminate poverty, achieve social justice, stabilize population, and prevent foreseeable humanitarian crisis.

According to PPD if we want to change the world and especially the poorer and developing countries of the south, there is nothing better than investing in adolescent girls who are the major player in reaping the demographic dividend of the country.

“There are close to 600 million girls growing up globally in developing countries,” reads PPD’s statement made available to this reporter on World Population Day which was celebrated on July, 2016.

“Well educated and empowered adolescents girls, will have the tools to reinvest back into their family, community, country and ultimately to the world,” added PPD.

One of the biggest challenges that PPD has been addressing since inception, is the hazardous health status of the adolescent girls. There are almost a high number of child marriages posing a massive demographic threat in most developing countries which leads to high early pregnancies, increasing child mortality rates, unsafe health situation of the young child mother, and a not too healthy family.

Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS) 2015/2016 highlights that, the issue of adolescent fertility is important on both health and social grounds. Children born to very young mothers are at increased risk of sickness and death.

Teenage mothers are more likely to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes and are more constrained in their ability to pursue educational opportunities than young women who delay childbearing according to THDS 2015/2016.

According to TDHS 2015/16 one in four women age 15-19 have begun childbearing (27 percent); this figure is slightly higher than that reported in the 2010 TDHS (23 percent): 21 percent have had a live birth, and 6 percent were pregnant with the first child at the time of the survey.

TDHS further shows that the proportion of teenagers who have begun childbearing rises rapidly with age, from 4 percent at age 15 to 57 percent at age 19. Teenagers with no education and those in the lowest wealth quintile tend to start childbearing earlier than other teenagers. The percentage of teenagers who have begun childbearing is higher among rural women (32 percent) than urban women (19 percent).

In the Mainland regions, adolescent childbearing is most common in Katavi (45 percent) and least common in Kilimanjaro (6 percent). Eight percent of teenagers in Zanzibar have started childbearing (11 percent in Pemba and 7 percent in Unguja).

In Tanzania 99% of girls who has ever been pregnant are not in school, perpetuating a poverty vicious circle to the girls and their would-be children, according to Population Council.

The world celebrated world population day, the day is observed globally to bring awareness to people about each one’s contribution and responsibility to population, especially where girls and women are concerned. Be it their sexuality, the role of women and girls, especially as they advance into adolescence to stand up against child marriages, early pregnancies and parenting, promoting family planning, highlighting the need for a small family and aiming for healthy lives.

PPD is an intergovernmental alliance comprising 26 developing countries. It holds the philosophy of South-South cooperation. It provides mechanisms for promoting partnership and cooperation among member countries with a view to achieving the goals of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), its Programme of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals. It holds permanent observer status in the United Nations General Assembly.

According to The Global Strategy For Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health 2016-2030, Investments to ensure that girls complete secondary school yield a high average rate of return (around 10%) in low and middle income countries. The health and social benefits include, among others delayed pregnancies, and reduced fertility rates, improved nutrition for pregnant and lactating mothers and their infants, improved infant mortality rates and greater participation in the political process. School curricula should include elements to strengthen the self-esteem of girls and increase respect for girls among boys.

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Youth Education Through Sports Tanzania (YES Tanzania)Executive Director Kenneth Weston Simbaya (in khaki coat)at Let Girls Learn Campaign in Washington DC.The Campaign was launched on April 13th, 2016 by United States of America First Lady Michelle Obama, it aims at supporting keeping girls in schools. It is estimated that 62,million adolescent girls who are supposed to be in schools are not in schools globally.

“A 10% reduction in child marriage could contribute to a 70% reduction in a country’s maternal mortality rate and a 3% decrease in infant mortality rates. High rates of child marriage are linked to lower use of family planning, higher fertility, unwanted pregnancy, higher risks for complications during child birth, limited education advancement, and reduced economic earnings potentials,” reads The Global Strategy For Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health 2016-2030.

Youth Education through Sports Tanzania (YES Tanzania) would like to underscore that, the health and well-being of adolescents and their future children is critical to the economic fortunes of developing countries. Early and closely spaced pregnancies contribute to school dropout, and limit economic opportunities of young people.

A key strategy for expanding those opportunities is to invest in adolescents’ sexual reproductive health and rights education and services, address social and economic factors that lead to early and closely spaced childbearing.

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