Adolescent Reproductive Health Concerns in Sub-Saharan Africa

15 Dec

Regardless of whether adolescents have had sex, what demands our attention is most young people are having doing so during their teenage years. Schools are an effective place to offer adolescents sexual and reproductive health related information and skills because it provides an excellent forum for reaching a large number of adolescents in a structured setting

Source: Adolescent Reproductive Health Concerns in Sub-Saharan Africa

Breaking the Silence on Menstruation and Hygiene for Adolescent Girls

7 Mar

I am a Woman who has a right to have access to feminine products and especially sanitary towels.

Girls' Globe

Adolescence is a transitional phase in life from childhood to adulthood and is something worth celebrating. Unfortunately, for many girls adolescence remains a crucial yet challenging life stage because of its physical and psychological changes – one being menstruation.

On any given day, 300 million women and girls around the world will be menstruating and most will spend a total of 3,500 days of their lives bleeding – the majority of whom lack access to clean and safe sanitary products, to a clean and private space in which to change menstrual cloths or pads, or to a private space in which to wash.

nelly1Negative social and cultural attitudes towards menstruation prevent millions of girls and women from reaching their full potential. In many societies, menstruation is supposed to be invisible and silent; therefore, menstruating women and girls are supposed to be invisible and silent too. The resulting cultural silence surrounding menstruation…

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TEENAGE PREGNANCY STILL A GREAT KILLER OF TEENAGE GIRLS IN KENYA

19 Dec

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Reproductive health and rights have been conceptualized under several human rights instruments which Kenya has ratified.These instruments seek to entrench gender equality by stemming out discrimination against women and guaranteeing comprehensive rights to women including; to control their reproductive health and to put an end to female genital mutilation. In spite of these instruments, abortion is restricted in Kenya and only applies in very limited situations, that is, where the continuation of the pregnancy poses a threat to the life of the woman. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and thereby every human being has a right to life. This right is safeguarded by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which states that no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Teenage pregnancy remains the biggest killer of teenage girls in the developing world. Young women aged 15 to 19 are twice as likely to die from complications in pregnancy as compared to older women. The chances of death in the first year of life for a baby born to a woman under the age of 18 is 60 per cent greater than that of one born to woman aged 19 or older. Teenage pregnancy has been on the rise in Kenya for many years and the situation is likely to get out of hand if nothing is done.  Several factors which include peer pressure, rape, cultural practices, lack of sexual awareness and abuse of alcohol and drugs have been attributed to teenage pregnancies but the biggest association is with poverty. This explains why teenage pregnancies are more usual in the rural parts of Kenya especially among poor households. In the northern parts of Kenya for instance, early marriages are very common especially in times of crisis, a trend that has been referred to as drought brides. Violence against women also exposes many young girls to unwanted pregnancy and its various consequences. The high mortality rate in the country can be linked to insufficient availability of comprehensive reproductive health services, lack of availability of safe abortion services and high rate of teenage pregnancy.

Considering that early marriages are more prominent in areas where poverty is high and low education levels, awareness campaigns as well as initiatives that could raise the living standards of those affected could go a great way in alleviating cases of teenage pregnancies. Sex education is also critical to teenagers especially because most parents shy away from discussing sex with their children. In the Kenyan culture, sex is still a taboo subject and any issues related to sex are meant to be discussed in the married couple’s bedroom. It is rarely discussed in public although some communities offer sex lessons to brides-to-be, but in isolation. However the society in general has changed, and sexual activity is frequently shown through the media with children as young as 10 years old being exposed and the internet is the least controlled media. The confusing absence of discussion by parents and educators, yet the seeming promotion of sexual activity on TV and the internet and indeed advertising, could well be a factor in promoting teenage experimentation, and eventual pregnancy. Increased levels of knowledge about modern methods of contraception as well as making them available and affordable is very essential. However, if teenage pregnancy is to be controlled and reduced we must realize that the solution lies in a shared responsibility that incorporates communities, the government and other stake holders and the teenagers themselves.

The Kenyan government should recognize and respect and raise awareness on Article 14 of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol) which  calls upon states parties to to ensure that the right to health of women, including sexual and reproductive health, is respected and promoted. And also the Africa Health Strategy developed and adopted during the 3rd Ordinary Session of the AU Conference of Ministers which provides in Article 86 that, “The health system should mainstream gender into health policy, seek elimination of all forms of violence against women, amongst other factors, recognizing the morbidity and mortality from unsafe abortions, safe abortion services should be included, as far as the law allows.

 

TEENAGE PREGNANCY STILL A GREAT KILLER OF TEENAGE GIRLS IN KENYA

19 Dec

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Reproductive health and rights have been conceptualized under several human rights instruments which Kenya has ratified.These instruments seek to entrench gender equality by stemming out discrimination against women and guaranteeing comprehensive rights to women including; to control their reproductive health and to put an end to female genital mutilation. In spite of these instruments, abortion is restricted in Kenya and only applies in very limited situations, that is, where the continuation of the pregnancy poses a threat to the life of the woman. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and thereby every human being has a right to life. This right is safeguarded by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which states that no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Teenage pregnancy remains the biggest killer of teenage girls in the developing world. Young women aged 15 to 19 are twice as likely to die from complications in pregnancy as compared to older women. The chances of death in the first year of life for a baby born to a woman under the age of 18 is 60 per cent greater than that of one born to woman aged 19 or older. Teenage pregnancy has been on the rise in Kenya for many years and the situation is likely to get out of hand if nothing is done.  Several factors which include peer pressure, rape, cultural practices, lack of sexual awareness and abuse of alcohol and drugs have been attributed to teenage pregnancies but the biggest association is with poverty. This explains why teenage pregnancies are more usual in the rural parts of Kenya especially among poor households. In the northern parts of Kenya for instance, early marriages are very common especially in times of crisis, a trend that has been referred to as drought brides. Violence against women also exposes many young girls to unwanted pregnancy and its various consequences. The high mortality rate in the country can be linked to insufficient availability of comprehensive reproductive health services, lack of availability of safe abortion services and high rate of teenage pregnancy.

Considering that early marriages are more prominent in areas where poverty is high and low education levels, awareness campaigns as well as initiatives that could raise the living standards of those affected could go a great way in alleviating cases of teenage pregnancies. Sex education is also critical to teenagers especially because most parents shy away from discussing sex with their children. In the Kenyan culture, sex is still a taboo subject and any issues related to sex are meant to be discussed in the married couple’s bedroom. It is rarely discussed in public although some communities offer sex lessons to brides-to-be, but in isolation. However the society in general has changed, and sexual activity is frequently shown through the media with children as young as 10 years old being exposed and the internet is the least controlled media. The confusing absence of discussion by parents and educators, yet the seeming promotion of sexual activity on TV and the internet and indeed advertising, could well be a factor in promoting teenage experimentation, and eventual pregnancy. Increased levels of knowledge about modern methods of contraception as well as making them available and affordable is very essential. However, if teenage pregnancy is to be controlled and reduced we must realize that the solution lies in a shared responsibility that incorporates communities, the government and other stake holders and the teenagers themselves.

The Kenyan government should recognize and respect and raise awareness on Article 14 of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol) which  calls upon states parties to to ensure that the right to health of women, including sexual and reproductive health, is respected and promoted. And also the Africa Health Strategy developed and adopted during the 3rd Ordinary Session of the AU Conference of Ministers which provides in Article 86 that, “The health system should mainstream gender into health policy, seek elimination of all forms of violence against women, amongst other factors, recognizing the morbidity and mortality from unsafe abortions, safe abortion services should be included, as far as the law allows.

 

CELEBRATING A SUPER HERO “THE GIRL CHILD”

12 Oct

ImageA girl child is a biological female offspring from birth to eighteen (18) years of age. This period covers nursery (0 – 6 years), primary (7 – 13 years) and secondary school (14 –18 years). During this period, the girl child is totally under the care of an adult who may be her parents or guardians or older siblings. This period is made up of infancy, childhood, early and late adolescence stages of development. At this time the girl child is flexible, builds and develops her personality and character. She is very dependent on the significant others, those on whom she models her behaviour, through study, repetition and imitation. Her physical, mental, social, spiritual and emotional developments start and progress to get to the peak at the young adult stage.

On December 19, 2011, The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to declare October 11th as the International Day of the Girl Child. This day seeks to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges that girls face around the world and it is also a means of breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence to which girls and women are subjected.

This year’s theme was “INNOVATING FOR GIRLS’ EDUCATION. The 2013 International Day of the Girl Child addressed the importance of new technology, but also innovation in partnerships, policies, resource utilization, community mobilization, and most of all, the engagement of young people themselves especially girls. Girls assume adult responsibilities at a very early age when they are forced to help their parents with household chores and raising younger siblings.  As young girls, they are denied the right to be like other children because they do not have time to play. Girls need to be sensitized of their rights and their role in the society. Parents and guardians too need to be encouraged and sensitized on the importance of taking the girl child to school. Gender discrimination prevents girls from attaining their full potential. Most of them are forced into early marriage, or their education is considered of lesser value than boys’ education, or they bear the burden of household chores meaning they are kept at home instead of sent to school. When resources are limited and choices need to be made, a girl child will always be at the end of the line in terms of resource allocation.

It is alarming that almost 88 million of the world’s child labourers are girls. Child labour and child marriage are a denial of the rights of children and a severe limitation to their full development. A lot of girls enter the labor force at an early age, and in the end they end up in the lowest paid and insecure jobs, constrained by gender inequality at home and in the workplace. Many girls who work as domestic workers remain invisible and unaccounted for.

Education is one of the most critical areas of empowerment for girls and women. According to the United Nations Children International Emergency Fund (UNICEF), education is also one sure way of giving them much greater power — of enabling them to make genuine choices over the kinds of lives they wish to lead. This is not a luxury. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women establish it as a basic human right. An educated girl has the skills, information and self-confidence that she needs to be a better future parent, worker and citizen. An educated girl is also likely to marry at a later age and have fewer children.

Some parents give reason for the denial of girls of their right to education as to prevent them from bringing shame to the family through early pregnancy. others believe that women who are at the same level of education as the men are a disgrace to the community because more often than not, they will not get married and if they do, it will be to a foreigner. For such parents, early marriage is the best way to prevent this and at the same time preserve traditions. It is always girls who spend more time on household chores than boys, leaving them with very little time to study at home. In case a family member falls sick, girls drop out of school to look after the sick relative. The situation gets worse when a mother dies, forcing the girl to take over her responsibilities. The situation has been worsened by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which has forced children out of school to take up odd jobs in order to play the role of their parents.

Governments need to identify concrete ways to alleviate inequalities and barriers for girls. There should be provision of certain services like providing clean water in informal settlements and rural areas so that the burden of water collection and transport is not unfairly placed upon girl children in the society.  And ensuring schools have adequate sanitation facilities that respect girls’ safety and privacy. To keep hope alive for girls in our communities, a number of NGOs have been allowed to operate in areas where early marriage is prevalent. They are now educating the people on the importance of taking girls to school rather than marrying them off to older men. Some governments in collaboration with NGOs have also established centers where girls rescued from early marriage are accommodated and counselled, before being sent back to school.

I believe through strict intervention of the government there is hope for the children who have been out of school to pursue their lifelong dreams.

Patience pays

11 Sep

Patience pays.

Patience pays

11 Sep

Ever since my conception I have achieved nothing without sweat and patience, not even when I was being born, I had to sweat my way out after waiting patiently for nine months and that’s why I cried with a very sharp angelic voice not because I was happy to finally have made my way out but because of what was awaiting me in this cruel world.

its a warm welcome to the world

Growing up was  much of a rocky path, but what I learnt over time was that a small child falls many times before he or she learns how to walk and until or unless we go through the pain and frustrations , then we wont be able to achieve our goals in life. when some people thought their lives were a bed of roses I thought mine was a mat of thorns. Despite the pricking thorns, the harsh sun and the windy, cold rainy seasons,I told myself that I have to press on and that one day I will archive what I wanted and no one was going to stop me.
if wishes were horses
After high school with no cash to join college immediately, I went from office to office looking for whatever job I could get as long as I got my daily bread. Being an independent woman at a very young age, idling was a no no for me as I had to pay my bills and keep myself to the standard that pleased me. Many doors were shut in my face, many failed promises, harassment, blackmail and all but I still pressed on. going through all these made me  realize we must face challenges and struggles in order  to achieve our goals. If there were no sad moments, the worth of happy moments couldn’t be realized. All I knew deep within me was that nothing is Permanent, not even worrie and each phase of life will pass away giving me some unforgettable memories. After every dark night there is a morning filled with lots of light. Every bummer I received came with a big rise. In all things give praise and Glory to God always. He is the Truth, the Way and the Light. He will guide your paths. prayer was my source of strength and some Big faith. I prayed, believed and waited patiently. no matter what obstacle came my way I scattered it by fire and reminded God that I was his Child and the Devil had no right to play his Aerobics on me.
But after  many years of  toils, struggles, oppressions, embarassments and heart aches, I thought it was just too much for me and that is when I thought enough was enough and it was time to call it a try or a day or whatever suits. I almost  gave up in life and found my way into a hiding place. of cause that was in my house. I cut my hair short thinking that would help increace my patience but instead it hit a big rock
my short hairdo
All I wanted was  to go away and never come back, or go to a place where there was no one to see or talk to. I asked myself many questions, so many that even a very inteligent teacher could not answer but then I remembered how much God loved me and that He had given me life in abundance. I knew God had given me hands and brains so   I put all my focus and effort into community service. I decided to serve the people through voluntering with different organizations. This I did with all my heart , my soul and spirit. I just realized it was a gift from God and that God had been waiting for me to discover it on my own. by doing this, my doors started opening day by day. Each day came with its own surprises and miracles.
I am who I am today because of the service I offered and is still offering to the community. its through the hard work and
patience that led to me being recognized by someone who helped me climbe the ladder. I was mentored, I was corrected and I obeyed and followed instructions of every detail. I performed my duties and tried as much as possible to do them well despite the many challenges. I asked questions where I did not understand. During this time I prayed and trusted God for bigger and better opportunities and because he is so faithful He gave them to me.
Through it all I am now counting my blessings each day thanking God for what I got, what I do, what I have learnt and what I am yet to archive. Things don’t come to us on a silver platter, we have to rise up and go get it.  Even the bible reminds us that KNOCK AND THE DOOR SHALL BE OPEN, ASK AND YOU SHALL BE GIVEN. It is amazing to be patient and do whatever you do with all you heart as if it was your own. stop complaining and just do it. I am a living esample of patience and yes I can testify that IT PAYS. that point when you are almost giving up, that’s when God is preparing to start manifesting himslef into your life so NEVER GIVE UP……
R