The SAVE Environment and People’s Agency (SEPA) has said there is need for parents to discuss issues of sexual reproductive rights with their children if teenage pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, STIs and maternal deaths were to be reduced in the country.
SAVE Environment and People’s Agency Chief Executive Officer, Mailes Muke, alleged that teenage pregnancies are on the increase because the subject of sexual reproductive is not discussed at household level.
Mrs Muke disclosed this to ZANIS today during a capacity-building workshop of relevant provincial and district level authorities on policies dealing with sexual reproductive health rights and services (SRHRS) in Zambezi district.
She said the earlier the parents begin to talk about issues of sexual reproductive health rights with their children at home, the safer a girl child will become in society.
Mrs Muke added that the information shared will empower and give an opportunity to girls, who is the most vulnerable children, to distinguish what is right and wrong when it comes to sexual activities.
She further explained that her organisation is worried about the increase in numbers of teenage pregnancies in North-western province and Zambezi district respectively.
She said teenage pregnancies have become a source of concern in the province hence the need for increased sensitisation of adolescents on sexual health reproductive rights.
Mrs Muke added that due to high numbers of teenage pregnancies, her organisation has launched a programme called ‘Make Way’, aimed at embracing youths’ sexual reproductive health rights, without leaving anyone behind.
She explained that the province is topping in numbers of teenage pregnancies in the country, with Solwezi district ranking number one, followed by Kalumbila and Zambezi district ranked number three.
Mrs Muke also revealed that some traditional norms and beliefs do not serve any purpose rather than encouraging the vice of teenage pregnancies.
She noted that some cultures celebrate teenage pregnancies instead of condemning the vice.
She has since called on parents to discuss issues of sexual reproductive with their children if they are to see them progress in life.
And Zambezi District Education Standards Officer, Gillan Kabelenga, said there was need to look after the boy child while taking care of the girls.
Mr Kabelenga noted that many are times when the rights of a girl child are promoted, leaving a boy child behind.
He said in order to have a balanced society, it is important that while the government is advocating and promoting rights such as keeping girls in school programme, it should also consider a boy child.
M Kabelenga added that all programmes should be designed in the way that they promote both genders, saying that most young boys have dropped out of school because of lack of support.
“I feel we are concentrating more on the girl child leaving a boy child behind. They are also more vulnerable, especially in our rural areas. We need policies and programmes that promote equal opportunities between a girl child and a boy child. That way, we will have a better society,” he said.
Meanwhile, North-western Province Education Officer, Peter Kaimana, has commended SEPA for supplementing government efforts in the fight against teenage pregnancies.
Mr Kaimana stated that there is need for the government and other stakeholders to work together in ensuring that the rights of adolescents are protected.
He added that teachers should be at the centre stage in inculcating good values in learners, especially a girl child, because they spend much of their time in schools.
And SRHR Ambassador, Collina Banda, has appealed to government and other well-wishers to support youth friendly spaces with equipment that will help them teach their peers on sexual reproductive health rights.
Ms Banda said all the three youth friendly spaces that have been identified in the communities have no equipment.
SRHR Ambassador also thanked SEPA for the opportunity rendered to them especially in incorporating their programme which she said has changed many young girls since its introduction in 2021.
Make Way is being implemented in five countries namely Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya and Zambia.