Well as young people form the core of the Uganda’s population with over 78% of the total population below 30 years and yet the 15-24 age bracket accounts for over 30%. In short, 7 of every 10 people you meet today is a youth and 6 of every 8 youths you meet is below the age of 24. Unfortunately, the youth face a bucket full of problems and road blocks like poverty, disease, high levels of illiteracy, unemployment and becoming parents at an early age.
According to the 2011 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey, 24% of female teenagers are either pregnant or have given birth already and about 14% of young women had their first sexual encounter before the age of 15. Teenage pregnancy is one of the major contributors to maternal and child mortality because teenage mothers are less likely to be able to give birth, less likely to go for antenatal and postnatal care, and less likely to take infants for Immunization.
Teenage Pregnancy is mainly attributed to early and forced marriages initiated by parents and some brutal rigid cultures where a girl is considered mature when she clocks 16. The love to get some money and free goods in form of bride price is also a contributing factor. Lack of information about the dangers of early pregnancy, and the high levels of illiteracy among females in Uganda is also a major cause of teenage pregnancies, not forgetting rape and defilement. Teenage pregnancy can also be blamed on the African Sex cliché, parents are afraid of talking about sex with their kids hence their kids learn from books, magazines, the internet and from peers thus causing teenage pregnancies all in the name of practicing what they learnt.
Teenage pregnancy can be tackled if more strict laws are imposed against rape and defilement. Teenagers are taught about safe sex and the use of emergency contraception (family planning), providing information should be a primary objective for all CSOs to help curb teenage pregnancy.
The African sex cliché must be done away with and sex education be made a priority because the internet and peers can sometimes if not most times be misleading. Parents should also be sensitized about the complications and risks that come with early and forced marriages, I don’t think a father would love to see his daughter or grandchild die yet they had the power to put a stop to it by saying no to early marriage and no to teenage pregnancy.