June 19, 2024

Civil Societies Initiate Program to Engage Teenage Mothers in Kwale

Young mothers after friendly match in Kwale (Photo By Caroline Katana)

By Caroline Katana 

Email thecoastnewspaper@gmail.com

Two civil societies have organised a football programme for teenage mothers to give them hope of life in Kwale County.

With rising cases of teenage pregnancies some of which are as a result of gender based violence, has forced Network for Adolescent Youth of Africa (NAYA) in partnership with Haki Yetu Organisations to organise the football tournament to signify unity for young mothers.

Statistics of end of 2020 to 2021 December indicates that over 9,328 teen pregnancies were reported.

This is higher in contrast to Gender Department’s September 2020 report that recorded teen pregnancy cases at 2,821 compared to 9,000 registered in 2019.

NAYA officer Aisha Mwanyungu, speaking during a friendly tournament at the Kwale Primary School ground, said the main agenda of the football matches is to sensitise girls on their rights.

“We have merged young mothers from Shimba Hills subcounty and Matuga constituency to signify equity, unity and courage so as to exploit different government departments’ available opportunities for employment,” she said.

According to her NAYA is implementing a project dubbed “She leads with a # Nipo nisikike” that targets the young between 10 and 19 years some of whom are young mothers.

“Our main focus is on adolescents but we are also target young ladies of up to twenty four years but our main target is to the girls below nineteen years.”

Mwanasiti Chimega is one of the young mothers who is leading project for renewal of her life.

After completing her class eight, she had nobody to support her secondary education with her parents only interested in supporting boy child education.

This made her life become miserable after giving birth, but she found solace at NAYA where she leads the project to revive her life.

According to her the tournament symbolizes equal rights to all girls without education background.

Another young mother from Shimba Hills, Rose Mwikali, under Haki Yetu Organisation says her dream to pursue secondary school shuttered after joining youth polytechnic.

“With Haki Yetu Organisation, we registered a self-help group for young mothers and also doing table banking to help us get seed capital and start small businesses to boost our livelihoods,” she said.

Munira Abubakar, children rights and gender based violence advocate at Haki Yetu says her organisation deals with about 79 girls there.

“I have young mothers in Lukore, Mwanamkuu and Mwaluphamba who I sensitise and connect them with different offices in governments so as to benefit with the available opportunities.”

She cites illiteracy and lack of Identity cards as the real challenges facing young mothers that is denying them many opportunities.

“We are emphasising to them to change their perspective that they can’t make it in life because they are mothers, I want them to apply for the IDs because it’s for every citizen not for those who are educated.”

Such friendly matches bring together security officers from gender desk, probation officers and youth department officials for interaction and bonding for posterity.

The Kwale County’s departments of health, education, and youth and gender have collaborated to develop a new cost-action plan to address the growing concern of teenage pregnancy.

The plan aims at increasing access to family planning information and services for adolescents and teenage girls aged between 10 and 19 years. 

The county’s teenage pregnancy rate of 24 per cent is higher than the national average of 18 per cent according to Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014 that requires attention.

Partners, including Marie Stopes International, Population Services Kenya, Plan International, Women Fighting Aids in Kenya, and more, have committed to support county through costed action plan of US $100,000 (Ksh15,000,000).

Through this action plan, Kwale government and partners will provide family planning, and counseling services for adolescents and teenagers.

It will also include post-partum family planning, orientation of headteachers and teachers in charge of school health clubs, apart from connecting primary schools with the highest teenage pregnancy rates to nearby health facilities.

The government will also conduct family planning outreach services and facilitate health discussions in schools for life skills purposes.

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