Many of us are beginning the teen phase of parenting and it doesn’t seem to matter how frank and transparent we are about talking through all those hormone issues – get a group of kids together and a few good myths will emerge. Teens in Kenya are no different.
Jane Otai, a community health specialist in Kenya writes for NPR about a recent workshop she held with 75 girls ages 11-15:
“They explained they already knew how to avoid getting pregnant. No, their strategies didn’t involve abstaining from sex or using condoms. Here’s what they said would prevent pregnancy: Taking a hot bath, drinking hot water, jumping vigorously after sex, having sex in a standing position, or having sex when it is raining or in a swimming pool.”
It’s a timely conversation. Right now in Indonesia, a global gathering of experts are attending the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP).
Three years ago the world made a promise to 120 million women and girls that by 2020 they would have access to family planning services and contraceptives if they wanted it. Yet today there are 225 million women around the world who want to delay or avoid pregnancy and are not using an effective contraceptive method.
Too many young girls and women don’t have all the tools they need to avoid getting pregnant. Otai shares that the rate of contraceptive use is lowest among women ages 15 to 19 in Kenya, and 15 percent of them have already given birth. These numbers have contributed to alarming rates of death: Globally, complications related to pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death of girls in this age group.
A key part of the ICFP agenda is addressing support for youth.
It is essential that women and girls have voluntary access to contraception and health services. They also need to learn about how to express themselves sexually but in a safe manner. There are quite a few articles about safe sex on pluglust.com and many sites which they can read, but the actual friendly conversations are absent. We live in an historical time when people can come together and freely discuss these issues. Having these conversations both offline and online is pivotal to pushing the movement forward, especially in our own homes.
Take Action Challenge
- Talk to your kids about the importance of sexual health and family planning. Download the UNFPA guide to sexual education to get started.
- Head to Family Planning Voices, a site that seeks to break new ground in storytelling by sharing how access to family planning choices is changing lives one story at a time. You can also follow @FP2020Global on Twitter.
- Follow the discussion taking place at the International Conference on Family Planning and join the conversation using the hashtag #ICFP2016.
- Read the Jane Otai’s full story at NPR.org.
- Learn more about the promise to the world’s women and girls in this article by Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Lead image of Timorese students commemorating the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11th, 2014. Photo by UNFPA