The Forum for African Women Educationalists in Kenya (FAWEK), in collaboration with the County government, has launched the tamatisha programme in Machakos, which seeks to empower teenagers in Kenya to curb pregnancies during and after the Covid 19 crisis.
The programme focuses on Machakos, Narok, Nairobi, Nakuru, and Kajiado counties, which were among the counties with the highest rate of early pregnancies during Covid 19.
Speaking at Kyaka Hotel in Machakos during the launch of the tamatisha programme, the FAWEK Chief Executive Officer Teresa Otieno stated that by raising public awareness, the tamatisha programme will play an important role in preventing the recurrence of other teenage pregnancies in the society, Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases, and Sexual Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV).
“In collaboration with the government, FAWEK was able to develop the tamatisha programme in five counties, which aims at raising public awareness to avoid the recurrence of teenage pregnancies in society as well as teaching teenagers about GBV,” said Otieno.
Otieno stated that with the support of the ministries of health, education, and gender, the organization has been able to implement several models, including the Tuseme models, which involve the formation of clubs in schools that train both girls and boys on matters relating to sexual health to ensure that relevant knowledge is provided to teenagers to reduce the number of cases of early pregnancies.
“We are collaborating with several government ministries and gender departments in the five counties to guarantee that adolescent boys and girls have important information that will aid in the avoidance of a recurrence of early pregnancies,” Otieno said.
She said that the Tuseme models helped in the integration of health concerns and in ensuring that girls are more assertive and confident enough to speak out about the issues that affect them.
“We have been able to establish Tuseme clubs in schools via the tamatisha programme, which provides teenagers with training in sexual subjects. The clubs also allow the girls to gain confidence in themselves and speak out about issues that affect them,” said Otieno.
She said that the Girls Participation and Leadership models provide equal leadership opportunities for both genders, with the goal of reducing inequities and barriers in education.
The CEO said that with the help of the government the organization has been able to set up centers of excellence in various counties including the Youth Friendly Reproductive Centres that equip adolescents with information on sexual reproductive health, allowing them to better understand their sexuality and the consequences of early sexual activity.
Present at the function was the director/ consultant of the Star Life consultancy Peter Ofware who revealed that the program was formed after consultations with key stakeholders in the ministry of health across the five counties, schools, and the youths.
He said that the stakeholders highlighted the various gender-related challenges that needed to be addressed in the county.
“The goal of this initiative was to examine the status of female pregnancies in the country as a result of the impact of Covid 19 in the five countries chosen. We acquired information that required us to provide guidance and solutions to assist in comparting the challenges,” noted Ofware.
Ofware noted that the frequency of early pregnancy cases in Machakos rose by 16.5 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, resulting in an increase in school dropouts in the county.
Ofware pointed out that the increased rate of early pregnancies and GBV cases in Machakoshas aggravated the preexisting poverty in the society since most victims drop out of school, limiting their capacity to study and advance their careers.
“The country’s considerable rise in teenage pregnancies leads to school dropouts, which prevents students from continuing their education for career development. This prevents the children from attaining their goals that are critical for improving their financial situation and life,” said Ofware.
He said that it is important for parents to consider school reentry for their teenagers who fall victim of early pregnancies so as to ensure that they are able to chase their dreams and acquire a career for their economic development.
“It is critical that victims of early pregnancy return to school after giving birth. This will provide them with an opportunity for job advancement, which will lead to financial success, allowing them to care for their children in the future,” added Ofware.
The director asked the consultants at the sexual reproductive clinics to build positive relationships with the teenagers while counseling them on sexuality issues in order to reduce anxiety and increase their desire for information.