The Forum for African Women Educationalists has today launched a new program that aims at significantly reducing the incidences of teenage pregnancy in Kenya.
The program, dubbed Imarisha Msichana (Build her up/Strengthen the girl) will include collaboration with key stakeholders in generating credible and acceptable data on teenage pregnancies in Kenya that will advise on apt solutions; a champion for re-entry of girls to school, sensitization forums for girls, young women, boys, young men, parents, community leaders on human sexuality and prevention of teenage pregnancy and early marriages, media advocacy programs, and awards of FAWE gender equality ambassadors.
“Teenage pregnancy cases have been on the rise for the longest time now and with the adverse effect of Covid 19, the numbers of girls affected increased drastically. And we needed to come up with strategies to prevent more cases from happening while at the same time helping those already fallen get back to school in a conducive environment to complete their studies,” FAWE Africa’s Executive Director Ms. Martha Muhwezi.
The girls will be consulted on the proposed solutions and where applicable participate in the implementation of the project. The girls will be introduced to FAWE’s Tusemeyouth empowerment program that enables female youth empowerment and gender awareness by enhancing girls’ self-esteem, leadership, and social and life skills, and promotes a positive attitude amongst boys toward girls’ education.
“Reentry policy implementation is the most critical but we need to go a step ahead and make sure it’s truly implemented and known to everyone for as much as we help the girls out there’s also a greater need for them to know their rights as well. This will enable them to defend themselves by having everyone as allies rallying behind for support. And for that Imarisha Msichana program will work for hand in hand with them creating a platform for them to air out their issues as well as deliberating the solutions they think would help them out,” she adds.
The program will run for a period of three years, from June 2022 to June 2024. The main beneficiaries are the teen mothers/adolescents ages 9 to 18 years and young women aged 19 to 25 years. In the framework of the program, young girls will be provided with useful knowledge and necessary skills to be able to fully transition to adulthood and help them become productive members of their communities.
The program will be implemented in 20 counties in Kenya namely: Nakuru, Nairobi, Machakos, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kiambu, Garissa, Bungoma, Kakamega, Nyeri, Migori, Murang’a, Kajiado, Narok, Homa-Bay, Trans-Nzoia, Nyandarua, Busia, Meru, Siaya, and Turkana county which had the most number of girls affected.
“We have chosen this age group because they are young and therefore at risk of missing out on a bright future. It is possible and it has been proven before that a teenage mother can resume her studies and excel in her academics. And thus the general mandate of the program is to give girls a second chance at education. The 10 Counties chosen were the hotspots of teenage pregnancy, especially during the Covid pandemic and this initiative launched today will act as a pilot to spearhead the mandate to the remaining counties and countries. We still an emphasis on county support towards the reentry policy pushing toward implementation of,” Said Ms. Terry Otieno, CEO, FAWE Kenya.
The partners include Creaw International which would aid in the protection of the girls and persecution of the perpetrators while the Red cross would digitize the Tuseme content to reach a wider audience nationwide. They will also be working with KICD to integrate human sexuality into the curriculum.
“This program speaks to our heart for we want to create a movement of an accountable nation. Poor accountability on national laws and policy is one of the reasons preventing girls from enjoying their rights. With statistics speaking for themselves of 379579 girls defiled and pregnant at just age 10-14. I was even surprised to read in the newspaper that the recent budget that was read had slashed the funds allocated for sanitary pads from 470 million to 270 million. And this will in turn have a very drastic effect on our girls who couldn’t even afford the 50 shillings then and now have to strive for an extra 10 shilling with the ongoing economical burden on increased prices of items. And the numbers will still spike up amidst the ongoing Covid pandemic if nothing is done. A generation of girls would continue to be excluded, marginalized, and left behind, and that’s where the Imarisha program steps in to create a framework for a new narrative on the status of girls by pushing forward advocacy’s at the national and county level,” Wangechi L Wachira the Executive Director Creaw.
Also speaking during the event and representing Dr. Julius Jwan, Permanent Secretary, Early Learning and Basic Education, Ms. Evelyn Owoko, Ministry of Education Policy and Partnership East Africa Community Affairs said: “We still need to work harder to empower the girl child. Let us remember SDG 4 which talks about lifelong learning and leaving no one behind. Re-entry policies such as the ones advocated by FAWE are key in achieving education for all. As the Ministry, we support organizations in their endeavor to support education.”
This would entail investing in adolescent girls and young women in the select counties to grow and effectively participate in their society. The selection will also include specific targeting of adolescent girls with disability and displaced/refugee girls.