Rwanda is committed to preventing teenage pregnancies in order to allow girls to pursue their life dreams, a Rwandan official said on Friday.
“Our youth have potential to pursue their dreams, to serve a country. Let us keep working together to protect them from early pregnancy,” said Minister of Gender and Family Promotion Soline Nyirahabimana during an event to mark the International Day of the Girl Child.
The day was marked in the East African country under the national theme — “I prepare my future by protecting myself from getting pregnant prematurely.”
The theme was chosen to reflect and take a bold stand to end an outstanding constraint for girls today, which is teenage pregnancy, Nyirahabimana said.
Teenage pregnancy has long-lasting negative effects on girls such as being a barrier to fulfill girls’ potential, school dropout, a life of discrimination and stigma from families, friends and communities, she said.
The minister called for collective responsibility to protect girls from teenage pregnancies, noting that government has made remarkable progress in addressing some of the challenges facing girls.
“Girls and women in Rwanda still face gender-based related challenges,” she said.
More than 19,000 mothers in the country had produced during their teenage age, a 2018 report of the Rwandan health ministry showed.
Since 2012, October 11 has been marked as the International Day of the Girl. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.