11 Dec 2013 15:00pm
RUNDU, 11 DEC (NAMPA) A conference on teenage pregnancies expected to come up with action-oriented recommendations to be consolidated into a national responsive strategy, started at Rundu on Wednesday.
It is hoped that such a strategy would help reduce teenage pregnancies in Namibia.
The national prevalence rate for teenage pregnancies stands at 17 per cent. The two Kavango West and East Regions collectively have the highest teenage pregnancy rate with 34 per cent, while Ohangwena is second with 26 per cent.
The three-day conference, which is being attended by young people, learners and Members of Parliament of the Childrens Parliament as well as traditional leaders, is aimed at creating awareness about teenage pregnancies; examining challenges and gaps in existing interventions; as well as sharing experiences on existing teenage pregnancies.
The Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Rosalia Nghidinwa officially opened the conference, and said teenage pregnancies rob girls of the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to national development and their personal empowerment.
There is a need to engage young people on how they can make a difference in their own lives by taking responsibility for their own choices, and to appreciate that the choices they make have consequences, she noted.
Nghidinwa further stated that she is disappointed by the fact that the majority of those responsible for impregnating young girls were adults who are supposed to be protecting and guiding them, adding that children who grow up alone or without the supervision of both parents have higher chances of becoming pregnant earlier.
We need to empower women to value themselves and their potential, as well as allow young people freedom of choice in gender-related issues so that they can make informed choices without fear of being stigmatised, the minister continued.
She further called on parents to go back to their traditional roots of gathering their children at one place in the evenings for storytelling, and stressed that this serves as an educating platform.
Teenage pregnancies remain prevalent, particularly in the rural areas of the country, and have a negative effect on the health of the adolescent, their family and their future.
Although Government has made great strides in the enrolment of girls in primary and secondary education, teenage pregnancy is said to be one of the factors hampering the retention of the completion rates of girls at those levels.
The conference ends on Friday.