How the Philippines is Tackling Poverty By Addressing Its High Teenage Pregnancy Rates

How the Philippines is Tackling Poverty By Addressing Its High Teenage Pregnancy Rates

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Teenage being pregnant is a worldwide situation, however within the Philippines, it’s seen as a nationwide social emergency. According to the United Nations Population Fund the Philippines has one of many highest teenage being pregnant charges among the many ASEAN member states. An common of 64,000 teenage girls, age 18 and beneath, give start yearly with a seven % enhance in childbirth for very young adolescents aged 10 to 14 years previous recorded in 2019.

Last yr, the company counted 70,755 teen pregnancies. By the tip of 2021, it’s projected to achieve someplace between 133,000 and 200,000, alarming figures contemplating one in five Filipinos still live below the poverty line.

In the 2020 Social Weather Stations survey, greater than half of Filipino respondents – 59% – acknowledge that teenage being pregnant is a key situation dealing with girls. Young expectant moms face many risks – maternal mortality, untimely start, stillbirth, and different well being issues. Their bodily our bodies are usually not but prepared to hold a baby within the womb. Early being pregnant and motherhood additionally have an effect on a lady’s social standing and mental health; younger mothers face stigma, judgement, and rejection by members of the family, these inside their friendship circles and the neighborhood at giant.

In addition, younger moms additionally expertise extra violence of their relationships and as a consequence, undergo from despair, anxiousness, fatigue, and emotions of worthlessness.

Teenage being pregnant additionally has financial implications. Its quick impact is felt by their respective households, as mother and father and family shoulder the extra monetary obligations of the younger mom and her little one. And as pregnant college students drop out of college and are unable to complete their research, they’ve a lowered capability to earn cash.

“The discounted lifetime wage earnings foregone by a cohort of teenage girls 18-19 years ensuing from early childbearing is estimated on the common at P33 billion,” said Population and Development Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III. In US {dollars}, that’s just a little over $684 million.

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Not solely does teen being pregnant characterize an enormous blow to the financial system of a growing nation, it additionally traps younger girls in a cycle of poverty that’s already tough to get out of.

The teen being pregnant disaster within the Philippines

Several components contribute to the escalating situation of adlescent being pregnant within the Philippines. For one, the society is predominantly Catholic and as such, its folks maintain conservative values. Premarital intercourse, particularly amongst minors, is frowned upon. Teens who have interaction in such acts face social stigma and consequently, don’t have entry to correct contraception measures and details about household planning. As one NGO employee puts it, “Loads of the present schooling within the Philippines is abstinence solely, and this contributes to teenage being pregnant.”

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Then there’s the Roman Catholic Church, a non secular group that also wields vital energy and affect within the island nation and former Spanish colony. As a results of the Church’s lengthy opposition to contraception, it took 14 years for the Reproductive Health Law to be applied within the nation, a legislation that ensures common and free entry to trendy contraceptives for residents. The legislation additionally mandates reproductive well being schooling in public faculties. The measures have been handed in 2012 however have been suspended by the Supreme Court, following objections from religious groups.

A key a part of his authorities’s anti-poverty program, in 2017 President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order accelerating the legislation’s implementation and pushing for the distribution of free contraception and provision of reproductive well being providers – a stance that’s nonetheless opposed by non secular teams. To today, the Catcholic Church’s affect on state issues proceed to hinder the correct implementation of the nation’s reproductive well being insurance policies.

A Filipino jeepney driver shows rosary beads in his car. Photo: Rainier Ridao.

Further exacerbating the teenage being pregnant downside are the federal government’s missed opportunities in offering household planning counseling and overcoming “boundaries to the supply of efficient contraceptive strategies”. It wasn’t till this college yr 2021-2022 that intercourse schooling has lastly been included in public college curriculum.

And then there may be the affect of the COVID-19 pandemic, with consultants agreeing that lockdowns have made younger ladies extra weak to early being pregnant as they’re faraway from the “protecting bodily setting of the varsity setting.” The pandemic, together with the gaps within the implementation of the Reproductive Health legislation, are inflicting a teenage child growth.

Addressing the teenager being pregnant disaster

The Filipino authorities will likely be taking a “whole-of-government approach” along with the native authorities models, involved authorities companies, improvement organisations, and the personal sector to resolve the issue of teenage being pregnant, says Population and Development Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III. Addressing teen being pregnant is central to the federal government’s poverty discount program.

In one other constructive step, the Department of Education is being urged to improve its curriculum in favor of classes that may improve college students’ information about their very own physique, the results of intercourse and the best way to defend themselves in opposition to these trying to violate them.

Adolescent Health and Development classes and “Youth for You” actions have additionally been rolled out; initiatives that purpose to lift consciousness amongst youngsters, and notably out-of-school youths, about intercourse schooling and the non-public, monetary and future penalties of being pregnant. The Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) and native authorities officers are additionally pushing for stronger parental engagement; asking mother and father to watch and information their kids in order that they gained’t have interaction in actions that might result in teenage being pregnant and need to drop out of college.

Teenage mothers will even be included within the nation’s social safety program in order that they’ll obtain monetary assist and medical help, particularly within the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

PopCom, along with the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), and related authorities companies and NGOs, have additionally launched the No More Children Having Children marketing campaign pressuring Congress to go the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Act and full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law, in addition to introducing legislative payments that may guarantee adolescent moms and dads entry reproductive well being providers together with trendy household planning strategies, complete intercourse schooling, well being amenities, and social safety.

The rising numbers of teenage pregnancies ought to function a wake-up name to the Philippine authorities. Children shouldn’t be having kids. The key to eliminating the teenage being pregnant disaster within the Philippines is in strengthening intercourse schooling, making certain teenagers have entry to social providers and are supplied schooling that empowers them to make knowledgeable selections and accountable choices.

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Cover picture by way of GOLFX.

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