The fight against teenage pregnancy in Liberia has received major boost with the launching of a four-year program in four counties of Liberia.
The program, which was recently launched by the Liberian Government in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), targets reduction in teenage pregnancy in Grand Gedeh, Maryland, Grand Kru and River Gee Counties.
At the launch of the program in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, Madam Elisabeth Harlemen, Head of Development Cooperation and Charge d’ Affaires at the Swedish Embassy in Liberia underscored the need for adolescent girls and boys to have access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health information and services especially in the rural areas, if teenage pregnancy must be reduced in Liberia.
Madam Elisabeth Harleman pointed out 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.
She told the gathering that “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 involuntary pregnant or being infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted infections.
”Madam Harleman praised local authorities, traditional leaders and stakeholders from the four counties for their declared support for the program.
For his part, Superintendent Peter L. Solo of Grand Gedeh, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said local authorities will collaborate to ensure that the program becomes successful in the region, by reducing teenage pregnancy.
Supt. Solo said the 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 the young people to join the process of educating their peers and discouraging them against early pregnancy.
The launch of the program was followed by a tour and the holding of inception meetings with cross-section of traditional and local community members in the four counties.
The meetings, led by several line ministries were aimed at understanding factors responsible for early
pregnancy, 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.
During the meeting, the need for sexuality education in schools, provision of family planning services and the reinforcement of the justice system to punish perpetrators of violence against teenage girls and sexual offenders especially adults, who impregnate under-aged girls were stressed.
The program which is funded by the Embassy of Sweden accredited near Monrovia is named and styled: “Empowered and Fulfilled.”
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 impl
ementation of the program.