Tackling teenage pregnancies in Siaya County.
Siaya Muungano Network (SIMUN) is a women’s right and youth development organization working as a Community-Based Organization (CBO), not-for-profit and mainly focus on core areas of promoting Gender Equality, Civic Education, Good Governance and Accountability, Economic Empowerment for Women, and Youth Community and Health Education & Advocacy. The organization implements different projects geared towards the safeguarding of women and girls rights withing Siaya and its environs. One of these projects highlights early pregnancies and marriages among teenage girls.
Teenage pregnancies are still a glaring reality for communities in Kenya. Siaya county is one of the places local leaders and organisations are trying to curb the prevalence through advocacy work. Teenage pregnancies have contributed to the poverty levels as well as low literacy levels in communities since teenage girls end up dropping out of schools with little to no skills to sustain them. Due to societal disproportions, girls and women continue to be marginalized due to cases such as this in financial, political and social settings. Stigmatisation from society of girls who fall pregnant early is also a hinderance to their own development. Some schools do not admit mothers while the whole process of rejoining school is difficult enough with child care being unavailable.
SIMUN in partnership with Husika Dada organization is in a bid to sensitize the community and stop early pregnancies among school going children. They do this by organising talks where girls and women on sex education, health care and their rights. . On 17th December 2022, they had a session with teen mothers and adolescent and young women at Nyangoma Dispensary Kogelo in Siaya County.
The discussions revolved around the importance of communication with teenagers and young women. Most young girls lamented that it is difficult engaging their parents on the topic. In partnership with medical practitioners, they were able to bring on board a counselor who helps them navigate the difficult emotions associated with teenage pregnancy, as well as provide resources and advice. SIMUN was also able to offer guidance on ways teenage mothers can complete their education, get skills that can bring and income and resources they can leverage on from the government. The organization also encouraged open channels of communication between parents, teachers and the local leaders. This is because some cases are those of defilement and are not taken into account due to unclear and supportive channel.
There were observed attitude changes and the facilitators prospected better outcomes in future. The girls could like reckon their rights and ways in which they are protected. They was also a general consensus to improve communications asa prevention measure. Local authorities promised to be more vigilant in dealing with cases brought forth by community members with extensive investigations