By John Kariuki
The Forum for African Women Educationalists and has today launched a new program which aims at significantly reducing the incidences of teenage pregnancy in Kenya.
The program, dubbed Imarisha Msichana (Build her up/Strengthen the girl) 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.
Teenage pregnancies remain a serious and ongoing economic, health and social problem in Kenya.
On top of robbing girls of their childhood, it also presents a huge challenge to their capacity to optimize their potential in future contributions to social, economic, and political national development.
Speaking during the launch event held in Nairobi, Kenya, FAWE Africa’s Executive Director Ms. Martha Muhwezi said, “Teenage pregnancy continues to be one of the key hinderances to girl child education in Africa in as whole and Kenya in particular.
We have seen instances whereby girls fall pregnant and never resume their education. This perpetuates a vicious cycle of poverty. As FAWE, we endeavor to ensure that girls get equal opportunities at not only education but also in their social and professional lives to achieve their full potential.”
The programme will run for the period of three years, June 2022 to June 2024. The main beneficiaries are teen mothers/adolescents ages of 9 to 18 years and young women aged 19 to 25 years.
In the framework of this programme, 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.
“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.” Said Ms. Terry Otieno, CEO, FAWE Kenya.
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.”
The Imarisha Msichana program activities will include collaboration with key stakeholders in generating credible and acceptable data on teenage pregnancies in Kenya that will advise on apt solutions; 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 programmes, and awards of FAWE gender equality ambassadors.
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.
These 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 programme that enables female youth empowerment and gender awareness by enhancing girls’ self-esteem, leadership, social and life skills, and promotes a positive attitude amongst boys towards girls’ education. Tools of empowerment will include usage of existing Tuseme Manual to establish Tuseme Clubs in participating schools