ZUJ and CSOs unite to tackle rising teen pregnancies

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Writes Tafadzwa Muranganwa
As the alarming surge in teenage pregnancies persists, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) recently orchestrated a crucial meeting with several local women-led civil society organizations (CSOs) to strategize on combating this growing menace.
The gathering took place in the Chishawasha community last Friday, bringing together journalists, civil society representatives, and community members to engage in a collaborative dialogue aimed at addressing the complex issue of teenage pregnancies.
Eric Matingo, the Program Manager of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, emphasized the significance of involving the media in community interactions to gain firsthand insights into the challenges posed by teenage pregnancies.
“This is an opportunity for the media to interact and obtain firsthand accounts of the menace of teenage pregnancies from women-led civil society organizations and members of the communities present here,” Matingo remarked.
According to Dadirai Yakobi, Senior Officer and Counselor for Girls and Protection Support Services at Shamwari YeMwanasikana, their organization is actively engaged in various programs, including psychosocial support for young girls who find themselves pregnant at an early age.
“As an organization, we have several programs designed to empower young women who may have been abused and fallen pregnant early. These programs include counseling and psychosocial support, among many others. We encourage communities to alert us about vulnerable young girls so we can provide the necessary support,” Yakobi explained.
Opportunity Makanga, the Executive Director of Mwanasikana Wanhasi, lamented the stigma that teenage mothers face upon rejoining schools, despite amendments in the Education Act allowing them to continue their education.
“While we applaud the amendments in the Education Act that permit teenage mothers to resume their education, we are appalled by the persistent stigma and stereotyping they endure upon rejoining,” expressed Makanga.
Highlighting the vulnerability of girls in farming communities, Shamiso Mutape, Information and Advocacy Officer at Farming Community Educational Trust attributed the surge in teenage pregnancies to the economic challenges in these areas.
“The land reform a few years ago left many jobless, contributing to widespread poverty in farming areas. Consequently, many girls, due to idleness and lack of opportunities, find themselves engaged in sexual activities, leading to an increase in teenage pregnancies,” observed Mutape.
Disturbingly, Zimbabwe has witnessed close to 350,000 teen pregnancies among girls aged 10 to 19 over three years, according to Blessing Nyagumbo, the Adolescent Sexual Health Reproductive Specialist at the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF).
Nyagumbo revealed this concerning statistic between 2019 and 2022, underscoring the urgent need for collaborative efforts to address the root causes of teenage pregnancies in the country.