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Benegusenga Angelique is a 17 years old young girl from Nyamagabe district, who got pregnant at a very young age. After getting pregnant, she faced mockery from her schoolmates and neighbors in her village. Her parents were not happy, they considered her a shame to their family. The situation became hard to bear, so she decided to drop out of school. 

“I got pregnant at 15 years old when I was a Senior 1 student. At that time, I did not know much about relationships and how to prevent pregnancy. I had never discussed reproductive health with anyone, thus did not know how to avoid what happened to me.” said Benegusenga.

Most teenage girls like Benegusenga get pregnant due to limited access to sexual and reproductive health information and feel ashamed because of community views on teenage pregnancy. 

Through the Healthy & Empowered Youth Project, UNFPA in partnership with Good Neighbors International in Nyamagabe District, has established 5 health clubs in different secondary schools counting a total of  6,989 members, to ensure that adolescents have increased access to quality SRH information, including life skills education, and information to prevent teenage pregnancy, gender –based violence and to stay in school.  

“After giving birth, some of my friends visited me, they shared what they had learned about adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and encouraged me to pursue my dream for a healthy and productive life. I thank them because they have energized my hope and confidence to return to school, where I integrated a health club to know more about SRH”  Benegusenga said. 

Through our health club, I am able to share my experience with other teenage members and discuss with them how to avoid unintended pregnancy.”  She added. 

Health Clubs are most effective when sexual and reproductive information is shared over many months, considering and integrating the age-appropriate needs and remaining sensitive to the local context. According to Twizere, joining the health club has given her an opportunity to discuss sexual and reproductive health and rights. Thanks to the open discussions, peer reassurance, and mentorship from the club, she has been able to make healthy choices  

Childbearing in Rwanda is a story that has been around for decades. While there has been a slight reduction in teenage pregnancy from 7.3% in 2015 to 5.2% in 2020 (DHS,2020), more still needs to be done to address teenage pregnancy.

Pregnancy during adolescence can be an agonizing experience creating sudden changes, often for the worse in a young girl’s life. These changes can include dropping out of school, life-long ill health, ostracization and reduced economic opportunities for the future.

UNFPA works to end preventable maternal death, unmet need for family planning, and gender-based violence and harmful practices by focusing on the promotion of girls’ rights. This includes supporting comprehensive sexuality education and Sexual Reproductive Health and care for young people in-school and out-of school. UNFPA also advocates for a second chance for teenage mothers to re-enroll in schools and reach their full potential. 

“UNFPA is championing the rights of young people to healthy empowered lives by targeting the most vulnerable youth, especially the teenage mothers, persons with disabilities, refugees, and those in the lowest wealth quintile through support to Sexual Reproductive Health awareness creation, youth-friendly services delivery and capacity building for adolescent responsive health programming.” Said Bernadette Ssebadduka, Health and Empowered Youth project coordinator

The Healthy & Empowered Youth Project is implemented by UNFPA Rwanda in the three districts of Rusizi, Karongi, and Nyamasheke; as well as in the refugee camps of Mahama, Kigeme,  Mugombwa, Kiziba, Nyabiheke, and their host communities, with funding support from the aid agency of the republic of Korea, KOICA.