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Posted by admin7 on August 28, 2015
pregnant girl - creating pathways

Malala Yousafzai has become an international symbol for educating the girl child. Shot in the head for insisting on getting an education, she has made it a mission to canvass for a right to an education for girls around the world.

Malala and all those who are passionate about girl child education are faced with a ton of challenges - including cultures and norms (and extreme religious views).  These hurdles which make it difficult for a girl to start or complete an education.  

All things considered, one of the biggest challenges that girls face, second only to poverty, is teenage pregnancy.

Teenage pregnancy does not just inhibit the growth and progress of the girl but also inhibits the growth and progress of the society. A UNFPA report released in 2013 stated that Africa had the world’s highest number of adolescent pregnancies. The report also noted that early pregnancy significantly affected the earning potential of a girl, ‘trapping her in a lifetime of poverty, exclusion and powerlessness.

 In Tanzania, there is evidence that higher female adult illiteracy rates correlate with the tendency of parents to devalue educating their daughters, thus perpetuating the cycle of illiteracy and lack of schooling for girls (UNESCO, 2012).

Pregnancy in very young adolescents is a problem which affects not just the economic power of the girl, but also her health and that of the baby.  There is a definite need for intervention in this area.

Several government agencies and non-profit organizations have focused on helping girls learn the skills they need to avoid the trap of adolescent pregnancy. There are others which concentrate on working teenage girls who are already pregnant so that their lives do not come to an abrupt end as a result of a pregnancy. One such programs is Creating Pathways, an initiative of Develop Africa, a nonprofit that works mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, where there are limited support structures for pregnant, teenage mothers.

Creating Pathways was established in Sierra Leone in 2015 to address that problem by providing the support that young adolescent mothers need.  This support helps them prepare for motherhood, providing psychosocial support and transitional education training. 

The program seeks to level the playing field for this group, which has often been neglected by their society.

There is a general belief in such societies that a girl’s life is over once she becomes pregnant.

Without any form of support or marketable skills (and an incomplete education) these girls fall through the cracks and end up in squalor and poverty.  They are unfortunately unable to escape from a cycle of hopelessness and powerlessness.

We cannot break the global cycle of poverty until we ensure that girls all over the world are given the opportunity to defeat poverty.

It is said that an educated woman is more likely to ensure that her children go to school. In order to raise a generation of Africans who are educated, it is important to ensure that their mothers get an education. For each girl that you help to learn marketable skills and earn a living, you are going a long way in reducing the poverty level in the world.

Creating Pathways is an initiative that we would all do well to get behind and give our full support. Changing the lives of pregnant teens and giving them hope is indeed a worthy cause.