Girls can fall pregnant as a result of early marriage, sexual abuse or simply due to a lack of access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. According to UNFPA estimates*, around 16 million girls aged 15–19 and 2 million under 15 give birth each year.
EARLY PREGNANCY RISKS
Regardless of the cause, the effects of teenage pregnancy and giving birth before their bodies are physically ready can have serious implications on girls’ health and futures. In Latin America, girls under 16 are 4 times more likely to die from childbirth than women in their twenties.
We need more education on sexual health
The health risks associated with teenage pregnancy are also multiplied for babies. Stillbirths and deaths in the first week of life are 50% more likely when the mother is younger than 20 compared to a woman aged 21-29.
When girls become pregnant they are often forced to leave school. This has a negative long-term effect on a girl’s ability to get a good job and reinvest in her children’s health, education and future which inhibits the development of her community.
Join the movement Because I am a Girl strives to ensure that girls have the ability to make key decisions about their sexual health and well-being so they can avoid teenage pregnancy. We are working at multiple levels with partners to address the root causes of these pregnancies. In addition, we are calling on governments to strengthen national health systems and invest in primary health care.
GIRLS MUST DECIDE
In Nicaragua, the country with the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Latin America, we’re working with different groups to help girls make key decisions about their bodies and reduce the number of early pregnancies. We educate young people about sexual health and encourage open discussions about the issue. Karen, 14, who has been involved in the project says, “We need more education on sexual health and we want our parents to feel comfortable talking to us about it.”
In addition, we are working with local police and community leaders to raise awareness of the problems associated with teenage pregnancy. We also support a shelter where pregnant girls can give birth in a safe, non-judgemental environment.
We firmly believe that girls’ bodies are their own and they must have the ability to make their own decisions about them. By raising girls’ awareness of sexual health, protecting them from abuse and connecting them with education and health services, we work to support the key decisions they make about their futures and bodies.
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