Jul 27, 2016 News
In an effort to help address critical issues affecting teenage mothers, the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association, (GRPA) yesterday launched a new project towards providing support for pregnant, parenting and at-risk girls.
The project is a collaborative effort between the GRPA, Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), the Rotary Club of Georgetown and Republic Bank Limited.
The launching, which was hosted at YMCA Brickdam, was attended by Minister within the Ministry of Education, Department of Culture, Youth and Sport, Nicolette Henry, UNICEF representative Marianne Flach, and Coordinator of the YWCA, Yonette Matthews, among other stakeholders.
During her remarks, GRPA’s Executive Director, Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth thanked her supporters for their passion and dedication in helping us to get this project off the ground.
According to Sheerattan-Bisnauth, the project will seek to empower 50 teenage girls through capacity building and skills training, in addition to supporting their reintegration into the education and economic systems.
She noted that often pregnant teenage girls leave school early because of a multiplicity of difficulties, such as lack of support to care for their babies, fees and uniform costs relating to re-entering schools, in some cases they are not accepted or they are stigmatized.
“This propels them into a cycle of poverty and abuse where their risk is higher in health, economic and social inequities.”
However, given that Guyana’s current ranking is high (second highest in Latin America and the Caribbean) for teen pregnancy, the GRPA, YWCA and partners have recognized the urgency of addressing the needs of young girls who are at risk.
Sheerattan-Bisnauth nonetheless described the project as “a small drop in the ocean, which we hope can increase and benefit many more girls.”
“It aims to address the situation of teenage girls who have difficulties in pursuing their education and career goals due to pregnancy, economic problems, parenting, gender-based violence and related issues. The main aim is to equip them with education and skills to take control of their lives, to pursue their dreams of a better future and transform their lives,” she added.
The coordinator noted that too often (society) is quick to be harsh and to say: “you make your bed, you now lie on it.”
“But it’s not so simple. Teenage pregnancy is a complex issue that we need to be attentive to, in our strategies to support and to reduce/prevent this occurrence. It is not simply a problem of adolescents and teens having unprotected sex at an early age, but is associated with a variety of factors, such as social, economic, cultural, and psychological factors, including poverty, school failure, family crisis, and sexual abuse,” Sheerattan-Bisnauth explained.
As such, she said the GRPA project is aimed at empowering teen mothers to re-enter the school system or to receive literacy and skills training aimed at enhancing their income-earning capacity and personal development.
According to her, comprehensive sexuality education will be provided including Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights, personal development, work readiness and life skills, literacy, intimate partner relationship and parenting skills will also be included in the programme, complemented by psycho-social support for the girls and their families, and teen dads will also be supported to be fully involved in the pregnancy and the life of the child.
More specifically, the project seeks to facilitate girls’ self-sufficiency – education, (life skills classes such as nutrition and money management, job skills training, resume building) encourage completion of secondary education and workforce preparedness, literacy and tutoring in core subjects, including pre-natal services, comprehensive sexuality education, build parenting capacity, including father involvement and psychosocial support for the girls and their families – home environment.
The project will be implemented in six-month phases, with 25 girls targeted for each phase. Phase One – August 2016 to January 2017 – and Phase Two – February to July 2017.
The Ministries of Education and Public Health are also collaborating with the GRPA on several of the programmes.
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