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2013 VOF Week 3: Teenage Pregnancies Holding Back Young Girls Future

In all sense of the word she was like the sweet smell of a rose, no wonder aunt named her Rosie. We would play together over the weekends after a long week at school. I wanted to be with her all the time. Rosie wasn’t only a cousin to me, but she was my best friend. In class she excelled highly and when I turned three I sneaked to school for the first time. Sat in her class with her that’s how our adventures grew.

I knew she was poised for a bright future. In her I saw a doctor who would eventually heal grandmother’s chronic cancer disease. I just hoped she would become soon enough so that grandmother would not succumb to this deadly disease.
Day by day, Rosie grew into a beautiful young woman. Unlike me she seemed to be growing each minute and that was the beginning of trouble. Young boys, in pretense of studying together with Rosie would flock our homestead. Sometimes grandmother seemed uncomfortable, other times her temper would just fly and everyone would be kicked out of the homestead. I didn’t understand her. I thought she was being insensitive.

The following year at thirteen years, Rosie would change. She no longer wanted me around her. In my naivety I thought she needed lots of time to study for her final exams. I didn’t fight her; I wanted the best for her. But she changed; she stopped being the beautiful and loving cousin she was. She was grumpy and always complaining about this and that. What made her change?

One evening, she appeared at grandmother’s door step, with eyes down cast. She was on the verge of crying and we did not know what had gone amiss. She refused to eat that evening and when grandmother prodded her about her status she let out a soft whisper “granny I am through with school.” I wondered what this was all about.

For days she did not go to school. I wanted to know what was going on but no one seemed keen enough to explain to me what had happened to her. One day after school, I found many relatives at home, Rosie wasn’t in sight. Grandmother’s expression expressed contrasting emotions. One moment she would be smiling the next a sad person filled with regrets. Then I heard a baby cry. That’s when I knew why Rosie hadn’t been going to school this year. She was a mother. At thirteen, she was already a mother!

That’s how I knew all the dreams we had in Rosie would be unfulfilled. My cousin is just one among the many young girls who drop out of school because of early pregnancies. In rural Kenya about 45% of young girls are victims of this phenomenon that is prone in sub-Saharan Africa. Just like other continents where young people are highly sexually active, Kenya is no exception. In 2012, there was a sad story televised of an 11-year old who was raped by a neighbor.

Unfortunately for her, she was impregnated and at 11 years old she had to forget the joys of being a child and become a mother. Sadly, for the stepmother that she lived with did not take heed when the young girl told her that the neighbor had carried out this unfortunate act on her.

While the young girls are the only ones who bear the brunt of the society, it is unfortunate that young people are involved in unprotected sex, exposing them to other risks such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Moreover, becoming a young parent means that this young people who are both immature and unemployed are a burden to their families as parents have to fend for them and their offsprings. I have witnessed how my cousin has been a victim and how she had to quickly learn to become a parent.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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pelamutunzi's picture

sad

all rosie's dreams gone. many young girls face a dilemma and do not know how to grow up and struggle with growing pains but by the time realisation sets in its too late. young girls need empowerment

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

Achitsa's picture

sad

Yes, it is sad to see all the dreams of this young people vanish just because of pregnancy.

Beth Achitsa

Sharontina's picture

Lack of awareness

Early pregnancy - lack of awareness is the cause. i believe young girls should be empowered and educated on issues such as teen pregnancy and risks of HIV/AIDS. The whole life gets uprooted once it enters into the lives of girls, no more growth, no more change and left alone in the dark forever. this has to change.

Merlin Sharontina

Achitsa's picture

True

It is true that lack of awareness plays a critical role. But sadly enough it is only the girl who remains to carry this burden alone. But with risks such as HIV the boys too are at a risk.

Beth Achitsa

CourtneyPaige's picture

Thank you

Dear Beth,

Thank you for this beautifully written, moving journal entry. Telling the story of your cousin brings up such important issues, like education, safety, awareness, and agency. I appreciate you introducing all of these elements through such a personal account. I would love to learn what you think could and should be done to prevent situations like this from occurring at the alarming rates they currently are.

Thank you again for the important and touching post.

All the best,
Courtney

Falchemist's picture

Terrible tales of arrested

Terrible tales of arrested potential, stolen opportunity, violated bodies and minds, and truncated childhood such as Rosie's, (and yours, because you, too suffer with her) remain unfortunately far too common in our world. The changes will come because women like you continue to stand up and speak responses, seek solutions, and say stop.
Rosie's daughters will benefit, and so, ultimately, therefore, will Rosie herself, as you identify initiatives you can take and then act on them.
You make really good points, and your story is poignant and wrenching, so I wish you had articulated some new, creative responses that could make a real difference in this piece. That'll be your next step if you are committed to making a change.

Anais Tuepker's picture

very moving story

Dear Beth,

Thank you for sharing this moving, personal story on an important issue. Your description made Rosie's story real for me. One thing that stood out for me was the way that your story pointed out that Rosie's fate is tied up with the dreams of her family - both you and your grandmother are also affected by what happened. Supporting young women to be able to continue schooling and avoid early pregnancy seems to me to be important both for individual young women and for their communities.

By mentioning another similar story reported in the news in Kenya last year, you seem to suggest that not much has changed. What do you think would be most effective to help girls and their families in this area? I'd be really interested to hear what you think are some of the solutions that would work in your community.

Thank you again for sharing this story, and very best wishes to you and your family,

Anais

Anita Muhanguzi's picture

It is so sad

It is so sad for such a young girl to be made a mother at 13. And this is the reality every where girls are made pregnant at an early age and some it is because they have been forced by their parents. We need to make sure that these girls are given a second chance at education so that they are able to provide for their children. I believe that the bread winner of the family is the girl or woman. Men cannot really be relied on because they eventually marry other women and have more children. Thank you my dear sister for posting, continue with the good work.

Mrs. Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Head of Legal and Advocacy
Centre for Batwa Minorities
a.kiddu@gmail.com
cfmlegal@gmail.com
Skype: mrs_muhanguzi

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