Posted March 27, 2021 9:19 am by

How teen mums who have been left behind in Tanzania are getting their future back

SHILELA, Shinyanga, Tanzania Mar 27 —When Glory* became pregnant at the age of 13, she felt worthless and despaired as she watched her dreams slip away. She knew all too well the stigma that surrounds early pregnancy and that she would not be able to continue her schooling.

For most adolescent girls like Glory, pregnancy is not the result of a deliberate choice. Girls often have little or no say in decisions affecting their bodies and lives. As was the case for her, early childbirth is a consequence of inequalities, and peer and other social pressures. It is also the result of a lack of access to age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health services and reproductive rights information.

In Tanzania, teenage pregnancy has increased in the past decade. Nearly one in four girls become pregnant or give birth to their first child by the age of 18, with wide rural, urban and regional disparities. To rewrite this all-too-common storyline, UNFPA is working with partners in support of five Adolescent Girls Clubs that empower more than a hundred out-of-school girls with life skills and entrepreneurship training in the region where Glory lives.

It is a small but important step for her.

Five months after she was invited to join the club in Shilela by her village leader, she is a different person – one who has grown in self-worth and confidence. She has learned that she has the right to make decisions about her body and that no one can force her into having unwanted or unprotected sex, she says. Now undertaking a vocational training course, she no longer feels inadequate compared to her friends who went on to secondary school.

At the Adolescent Girls Clubs, vulnerable girls learn to challenge existing gender inequalities, and gain new skills and knowledge. The clubs are supported through the UNFPA-UN Women Joint Programme funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

Protecting girls’ rights

UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, is working to address issues such as adolescent pregnancy in Tanzania by focusing on the protection and fulfilment of girls’ rights.  The agency supports and advocates for comprehensive sexuality education – in a context where there are still taboos and barriers to discussions around young people’s sexual and reproductive health – and expands access to sexual and reproductive health care and information at adolescent-friendly health corners.  

In Shinyanga, where Glory lives, the Adolescent Girls Clubs are supported through the UNFPA-UN Women Joint Programme “Realizing Gender Equality through Empowering Women and Adolescent Read More…