Motherhood in childhood
6 November 2013
Author: Diana Warira
Early childbearing is associated with high maternal mortality and morbidity rates as well as high infant mortality rates.

Starting sexual intercourse at an early age places a young person at risk of unwanted or unintended pregnancy, early childbearing and high fertility. Evidence has shown that those who initiate sex at early ages are more likely to be exploited by adults and less likely to use protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

Early childbearing is associated with high maternal mortality and morbidity rates as well as high infant mortality rates (IMR). In addition, many young women who fall pregnant opt for abortion, and because of the stigma and legal restrictions associated with abortion they often opt for unsafe abortion services, placing themselves at risk of death or lifelong reproductive complications.

This year UNFPA launched the 2013 State of World Population Report with a focus on ‘Adolescent Pregnancy.’

 The highlights of the report includes:

 1. The Global Challenge: ‘Every year in developing countries, 7.3 million girls under the age of 18 give birth’

 2. The impact on girls’ health, education and productivity: ‘When a girl becomes pregnant or has a child, her health, education, earning potential and her entire future may be in jeopardy, trapping her in a lifetime of poverty, exclusion and powerlessness.’

 3. Pressures from many directions: ‘Adolescent pregnancies do not occur in a vaccum but are the consequence of inter-locking factors, such as widespread poverty, communities’ and families’ acceptance of child marriage and inadequate efforts to keep girls in school.’

 4. Taking Action: ‘Multilevel interventions that aim to develop girls’ human capital, focus on their agency to make decisions about their reproductive health, and promote gender equality and respect for human rights have had doucmentable impact on preventing pregnancies.’

 5. Charting a way forward: ‘Adolescents are shaping humanity’s present and future. Depending on the opportunities and choices they have during this period in life, they can enter adulthood as empowered and active citizens, or be neglected, voiceless and entrenched in poverty.’

In Kenya this report was launched on October 18, 2013 at the Laico Regency Hotel by the Kenya National Council for Population and Development (NCPD), Ministry of Devolution and Planning with support of UNFPA. The SWOP 2013 report was launched alongside the Kenya Population Situation Analysis report (PSA). You can download the Kenya PSA report here.

The Kenya Population Situation Analysis report is a report that incisively documents the overall situation of the well being of Kenyan society, and informs the citizens, civil society, government and wider stakeholder community of the challenges and opportunities that Kenya has with respect to population and development. The report recommends that there needs to be;

a) Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights,
b) Improved maternal, new born and child health,
c) Supporting efforts towards a strong information base.

You can visit the
UNFPA website to download a copy of the SWOP 2013 report.

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