World Population Day: Teenage Pregnancy

Today is World Population Day.

The world's population is 7 billion, and growing. The majority of population growth is taking place in developing countries such as Uganda, which has one of the highest fertility rates in the world.

An ever-growing population places demands on resources, such as access to health services and has implications for youth empowerment.

Statistics:

  • 16 million girls worldwide under the age of 18 give birth every year.
  • Globally, Africa counts for 20% of all teenage pregnancies, but out of the African continent, Uganda counts for 40% of these.
  • Uganda has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the world, with over 300,000 girls in Uganda getting pregnant before they are 19, which is 1 in 4.
  • Out of all the pregnancies annually in Uganda, 25% of these are teenage pregnancies.
  • …Compare that to just 2% in the UK.

Becoming pregnant can have disastrous consequences for the lives of girls in Uganda. They have to drop out of school; many girls get disowned by their parents, and all suffer the social stigma of having a child outside of marriage. All too often the person who got them pregnant is nowhere to be found and the girl is left to raise the baby alone, and the cycle of poverty continues…

For many girls, pregnancy has little to do with informed choice. Often it is a consequence of rape, sexual coercion, rights violations (such as child marriage), inadequate education and lack of access to contraception and sexual information.

Emma*

is 15 years old and comes from Katanga slum in Kampala. She is being sponsored to go to school by Kids Club Kampala and is doing well at school. One evening during the school holidays, she was gang raped by 4 men outside her home. She was too scared to report the crime, and too ashamed to tell her mum when she realized she was pregnant. Now she is pregnant she is dropping out of school and facing her and her child’s futures alone.

Jane*

is 16 years old and lives in a very poor rural village in Uganda. She was being sponsored to go to school, but last year she met a man who enticed her away with the promise of a better life. She ran away from school to live with him but when she became pregnant, her boyfriend left her. She now has a young baby and is back living in the village with her mum and younger brothers and sisters.

Sadly, these shocking and sad stories are all too common in Uganda, particularly in the urban slums where we work which are notorious for rape and violent crime.

Kids Club Kampala is working with vulnerable girls, to support their education and to empower them to make good choices. Teenage pregnancy is a huge problem in Uganda, and not easily solvable.

However we are supporting girls through education, allowing them a safe space to discuss ideas, ask difficult questions, and receive emotional support.

“When we devote attention and resources to education, health and well-being of adolescent girls, they will become an even greater force for positive change”  - Ban Ki-Moon