Teenage pregnancies and marriages remain a major contributor to girls’ school drop outs in the Zambian community. The Forum for African Women Educationalists, Zambia (FAWEZA) Vice National Chairperson, Cecilia Sakala says the organization estimates that during the Covid-19 pandemic, there could be about 7 million unintended pregnancies in the coming months world-wide as forecasted by UNFPA.
Speaking on behalf of FAWEZA National Chairperson, Prof. Enala Tembo Mwase, Ms. Sakala said that COVID 19 is deepening inequalities and millions of women and girls risk losing the ability to plan their families and protect their bodies. “Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) being taught in schools has proven to be useful in providing information about learners’ reproductive wellbeing. The advent of COVID 19, has negatively affected learning of CSE in schools and is likely to result in high dropout rates among girls especially in rural areas and vulnerable communities.” Said Ms. Sakala
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and partners, it is estimated that during the Covid 19 pandemic, there could be around 7 million unintended pregnancies in the coming months. UNFPA believes that the pandemic is deepening inequalities and millions of women and girls now risk losing the ability to plan their families and protect their bodies and health. In all this, FAWEZA and other partners will put women and girls first.
“FAWEZA is concerned with the high number of teenage pregnancies in Zambia. The Ministry of General Education indicated that in 2018, teenage pregnancies stood above 15,000 and less than 50% of these re-entered school. This is of great concern to FAWEZA because despite the country having in place the re-entry policy of 1997, few female learners are benefiting from it. We are making efforts to compliment the government through implementation of policies such as the reentry policy by re-entering girls into school.”
In 2019, FAWEZA assisted 460 teen mothers and former child brides to re-enter school. These teen mothers were provided with scholarships to enable them remain in school. This was made possible through the support of the Swedish Embassy, through the Non-Governmental Gender Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC), the Norwegian Church Aid and an anonymous partner based in Kenya. It is FAWEZA’s hope that more donors and the private sector will support the organization.
Ms. Sakala was speaking during a handover ceremony of personal protective equipment to Kamulanga secondary school. FAWE Zambia Equipping Learners with Covid 19 Safety Kits: https://drive.google.com/file/d/17bGRH6cJLQyAuPLDkKKD65rSQ6pL4Qnp/view?usp=sharing_eil&invite=CNqDnfwL&ts=5ef3553e .
Kamulanga secondary school’s Head boy, Mike Banda, thanked the organization for providing pupils with essential personal protective equipment to protect them from contracting the novel Coronavirus. “I would like to sincerely thank FAWEZA for the wonderful gesture that they have shown in providing the essential kits toward the fight against the novel corona virus disease. This gesture that you have done will go a very long way. We were afraid and terrified of Covid-19 as pupils of Kamulanga Secondary School but now you have come to get us out of the lion’s den. We were learning in fear but now FAWEZA has come to give us confidence.” Said Mike Banda.