As part of efforts to reduce teenage pregnancies in Liberia, the Government of Liberia in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has launched a four-year program to tackle teenage pregnancies in four counties in Southeast Liberia, including Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Grand Kru and Maryland Counties, respectively.
The program titled: “Empowered and Fulfilled” is funded by the Swedish Embassy in Liberia. It is expected to complement other reproductive health, gender and livelihood related projects supported by United Nations agencies in the four counties and build on achievements made at both national and targeted counties’ level on young people’s sexual reproductive health and rights.
According to a statement from UNFPA, it is also aimed at increased access and utilization of sexual reproductive health and family planning services by adolescents.
Several line ministries, including Health, Gender and Children Protection, Education, Youth and Sports and Internal Affairs in collaboration with Planned Parenthood Association of Liberia, Action Aid-Liberia, Federation of Liberian Youth, Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, National Traditional Council of Liberia and BRAC will led the implementation of the program.
Speaking recently at the official launch in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, the Head of Development Cooperation and Charge d’ Affaires at the Swedish Embassy near Monrovia said adolescent girls and boys need access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health information and services especially, in the rural areas, if teenage pregnancies must be reduced in Liberia.
Madam Elisabeth Harleman observed that discussing sexuality for and with young girls and boys is still considered difficult with few information, education and communication outlets, involving young people themselves.
“Sweden’s global experience from supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights shows that in order for young people to be able to take advantage of society’s opportunities, such as education and work, and to contribute to economic growth, young people must be given the opportunity to have a responsible, satisfying and safe sexual life, without coercion, violence, discrimination or the risk of becoming involuntarily pregnant or being infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted infections”, she said.
On behalf of his colleagues, Grand Gedeh County Superintendent Peter L. Solo said local authorities will collaborate to ensure that the program becomes successful in the region.
He said traditional and religious leaders will be the principle mechanism that will be used to go into communities to establish, reinforce or highlight the effect of teenage pregnancy in the region.
The Grand Gedeh Superintendent urged young people to join the process of educating their peers and discouraging them against early pregnancy.
The launch followed a tour and the holding of inception meetings with cross-section of traditional and local community members in the four counties, aimed at understanding factors responsible for early pregnancies, as well as deriving local solutions to the issue.
Key issues identified during the meeting include lack of parental guidance, care, sex abuse of adolescent girls by their teachers and influential community leaders, lack of sexual education in schools, as well as at homes between parents and their children Press release