The United Nations is proposing that young people – who make up Liberia’s largest population – should lead a global drive to break the pattern of the past and set the world on course to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030. But with teenage pregnancy still raging in
Liberia, it is certain to hamper the youth’s active involvement in achieving a sustainable future.
Speaking on the theme, “Combating Teenage Pregnancy: A Pathway to Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development,” last Friday in celebration of International Youth Day, keynote speaker Ciata A. Stevens said Liberia needs an integrated approach to address the challenge of teenage pregnancy for the country to achieve its goals.
Ms. Stevens said according to the Liberia Demographic Health Survey 2013, the rate of teenage pregnancy is approximately 31 percent of ages between 15 and 19 years; and in order to get rid of teenage pregnancy Liberia needs more experts that will come up with actual, current and correct data to effectively tackle teenage pregnancy.
Ms Stevens is the Special Assistant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia. “There is a need to take a closer look at the major causes of teenage pregnancy. Is it gender based violence? Is it lack of access to comprehensive sexual reproductive health education?” Ms. Stevens asked.
“The need to proffer solutions and alternatives to combat teenage pregnancies cannot be overstated. There is an urgent need to make Sexual and Reproductive Health Education more accessible to girls and boys. Although the government and the non-governmental organizations are making some gains more needs to be done.”
Ms. Stevens added: “Instead of holding young girls responsible for teenage pregnancy, it is a responsibility of everyone—teenage girl, the father of the baby, parents, community, social groups, schools, government, and non-government organizations.”
Quoting a report, Ms. Stevens said there is a significant increase in the rate of teenage pregnancy in 2015, and there are diverse indicators of an annual increment.
Believing that the youth, with their creativity and idealism, are the key to delivering the goals of the new UN sustainability agenda, Ms. Stevens said tackling teenage pregnancy must start with investment in young people.
Ms. Stevens holds a Master of Arts Degree in Development Studies majoring in Human Rights and Social Justice from the International Institute for Social Studies at Erasmus University, in the Hague, Netherlands.
International Youth Day is an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change, as well as an opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges and hardships facing the world’s youth.