A Thika based counselor has called on the Central government and county government to immediately address the plight of teenage mothers in Thika Town which has become rampant in informal settlement areas where young girls are subjected to poverty, gender inequality, lack of sexual and reproductive health information and services and lack of comprehensive sexuality education.
Speaking during the first ever Teen Moms Initiative forum which held at the Africana College of Professional Counseling, organized by Susan Gitau Counseling Foundation (SGCF), the foundation director Dr. Susan Gitau said…“It was painful for her as a counselor and a mother to see a lot of these teens being subjected to ridicule and shame, because they got pregnant in their teens,”
“it is my hope and prayer that those charged in looking into their welfare will take up the challenge and see to it that they have at least gotten back to school, and perhaps it’s high time both the county and national governments made sure that this young mothers are enrolled enabled to continue with formal education or enrolled in vocational training centers which will go a long way in instilling confidence and hope to this young and bright teens,” she further added.
Gitau further said that despite there being a policy that allows young mothers to return to school, Matharau, Goshen, Kiandutu, Gacagi areas still have a high female school dropout rate.
The event brought together over 100 teenage mums aged between 15-20 years from informal settlements such as Matharau, Goshen, Kiandutu and Gacagi. Most of the participants sighted pregnancy as the main reason why they left school at an early age.
“Some of his children find themselves in their situation through able people who leave them to fend for themselves and their children thus cutting their potential at an early age which is pathetic and needs immediate attention” she said
Explaining her experience, one of the teenage mothers 16 year old Florence Wanjiru said she dropped out of school in form one after being chased away due to lack of school fees.
“Our family was going through a rough patch, my father had just passed on and my mum and younger brother had just been admitted to hospital and we couldn’t raise school fees, two months down the line I discovered that I was pregnant, the boy who impregnated me couldn’t hear none of it even but my mother encouraged me to keep the baby after learning that I was contemplating abortion. She said
As young girls become mothers in their teen this affects their attainment of education and according to Dr. Gitau, the relevant stakeholders in the education sector need to be more vigilant in monitoring school re-entry of teen mothers and also a lot of advocacy needs to be carried out in making sure that teenage mothers, their parents and communities are aware of the rights of teen mothers to return to school.
The event also brought together various stakeholders from health, education and psychology industries.