Botswana And Unesco 18th Edition

U NESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa recently gathered print and broad- cast journalists from across Botswana to build their ca- pacity and launch an awa- reness campaign on the scourge of Early Unintended Pregnancy (EUPs) amongst young girls. The training which was held in Maha- lapye attracted close to 30 media practitioners from both government and pri- vate media. Officiating at the training workshop, Ms TariroMakan- ga-Chikumirike, a health and development communi- cations specialist said EUP was a global public health concern with high preva- lence rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 10 of the countries sur- veyed in Eastern and South- ern Africa (ESA), 15 per cent of women between 15 and 19 were found to have fallen pregnant at least once. This is especially prevalent in areas where childmarriages are rife. She thus explained that EUP was driven by multiple factors that included poverty, lack of information and ac- cess to reproductive health services, cultural norms, peer pressure and sexual abuse and intergenerational sex. In some instances, she said in other areas girls had dif- ficulty accessing sexual re- productive health services andmodern contraceptives. Furthermore, she said even in places where such health facilities were avail- able, young girls felt jud- ged by health care workers and were stigmatised. These young girls, she added, felt they could not talk to their parents either. Ms Makanga-Chikumi- rike noted that early unin- tended pregnancies had a negative impact on the edu- cational attainments for girls through school dropouts and decreased completion rates. Consequently, earlypregnan- cies, she said, came at great physical risks to the young girls who went through se- vere emotional trauma, early marriage and social stigma. Formost of these girls, Ms Makanga-Chikumirike said an early pregnancy meant the end of their education as some were expelled or dropped out due to discrim- ination and financial rea- sons. She also indicated that of those who dropped out less than five per cent com- pleted their studies. She explained that look- ing at the statistics, minis- ters from East and Southern Africa committed to reduc- ing early unintended preg- nancy by 75 per cent by 2020 through bringing compre- hensive sexuality education into the curriculum. She also urged themedia to challenge regressive cul- tural practices that support early marriage and sexual coercion and sensitise com- munities and parents about how to deal with school-age pregnancy. B OT SWANA AND UN E S C O UNESCO Drills Media on Pregnancy Campaign 57 BOTSWANA NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR UNESCO