Worldwide, about 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 years and two million girls under the age of 15 give birth every year (WHO:2012).

It’s World Population Day today! This year’s theme is “Teen Pregnancy” and IPPF ESEAOR joins the worldwide call to reduce the incidence of early pregnancy among teenage girls. Let them finish their education. Let them enjoy their childhood before they bring up another child of their own. Let them achieve their dreams.

 

IPPF ESEAOR Statement for World Population Day 2013

 

According to the World Health Organization, one in every 5 girls worldwide has given birth by the age of 18. About 2 million girls under the age of 15 give birth every year. Worse, an estimated three million girls aged 15-19 undergo unsafe abortions every year. Many of them die due to complications of unsafe abortion. Unfortunately, these incidences happen among the world’s poorest girls.

Why do these happen? Adolescent births may be attributed to several factors. Among these is the fact that in some societies, there may be cultural pressure on girls to marry and bear children early, or they may have limited educational and employment prospects.

Further, many young girls do not know how to avoid becoming pregnant, or are unable to obtain contraceptives. However, even where contraceptives are widely available, sexually active adolescents are less likely to use contraceptives due to stigma or discrimination.

In addition, there is a lack of sexuality education in many countries. Combined with lack of access to services and poor knowledge, the consequences are life-changing for many poor girls. Usually for the worse.

IPPF East and Southeast Asia and Oceania Region calls on governments and other stakeholders to address the issue of teenage pregnancy by expanding educational opportunities for all, close gender-related education gaps at all levels, including higher education, and adopt comprehensive sexuality education to eliminate discrimination against women and girls and facilitate the development of the skills they need to protect themselves from sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. As stated in IPPF’s Vision 2020, we call on governments to make comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) available to all by 2020. CSE must be provided as a mandatory part of the school curriculum – comprehensive sexuality education that is sensitive to cultural contexts. It must convey accurate information that respects the right of all people to information and education about their sexual and reproductive health. In addition, contraceptive services must be made available to sexually active girls without discrimination to their marital or socio-economic status.

 

Let us care for the teenage girls of this world. Let them finish their education. Let them enjoy their childhood before they bring up another child of their own. Let them achieve their dreams!

 

– 11/7/2013

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