Article by PBI-Canada
The Peace Brigades International-Kenya Project has noted that there has been a sharp increase in teenage pregnancies in Kenya during the Covid-19 pandemic.
PBI-Kenya has highlighted: “Child pregnancies are closely linked to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and put the health of girls at risk, have negative socio-economic effects and often block their access to education.”
Globally, pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause of death among girls 15–19 years of age. In Kenya, a study into maternal deaths in 2017 found that 9 per cent of those who died in hospital were teenage girls. Another study done in 2019 found that 98 per cent of teenage girls in Kenya who survive childbirth drop out of school.
PBI-Kenya explains: “Measures that were put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19, such as the closure of schools and the curfew, combined with effects of the pandemic like job loss, are factors that have exacerbated the already critical problem of child pregnancies. The closure of schools also meant that school-based programmes that provide information on sexual and reproductive health and offer menstrual hygiene commodities, could not continue.”
PBI-Kenya developed the Women Human Rights Defenders Toolkit in 2016 to help address the specific challenges of grassroots WHRDs. Toolkit Organizers are community activists working for women’s and children’s rights in their communities.
This past August these organizers held community meetings in Kibera, Mukuru, Mathare, Kawangware, and Langata settlements about this situation.
Several recommendations came from these discussions.
PBI-Kenya highlights that one of the recommendations to empower girls “would be comprehensive sex education, which will support them with skills and knowledge and enable them to make informed choices regarding their sexual and reproductive health.”
Kenya’s parliament has been debating legislation mandating age-appropriate sex education in schools. Currently, when sex education is taught at all in schools, the courses focus largely on HIV prevention and abstinence.
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