Teenage pregnancy and motherhood are the second most prevalent child abuses in Sierra Leone. A 2013 UNICEF study shows that the problem is prevalent amongst 68% of sexually-experienced girls around the mean age of 15 years. The Sierra Leone Out-of-school study conducted by UNICEF identified high pregnancy rate as a strong contributing factor as to why school-aged children drop out of school. Causes of teenage pregnancy and early marriage include lack of access to sexual and reproductive health education and services, according to Plan International.
We started the empowerment and livelihood for adolescents programme in Sierra Leone to provide 13-20 year old girls a platform to voice their concerns, as well as build their capacity to manage numerous responsibilities. We assist girls to become economically and socially empowered by providing safe spaces for them to share experiences, receive training on life skills, livelihood and credit support to start income-generating activities along with community sensitisation activities, with the objective of community ownership and support.
We establish clubhouses situated near the homes of target communities, where the girls can socialise and discuss issues of concern as well as challenges that are common to them. The mentors of each club receive training on teaching through monthly refresher programmes. Teenage pregnancy, limited access to reproductive services and information, malnutrition, sexual and gender-based violence are some of the health issues that are discussed in these clubs.