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Harare, Zimbabwe – The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has granted a sum of $100,000 towards UNESCO’s efforts to reduce Early and Unintended Pregnancy (EUP) in the East and Southern Africa region. The grant will allow for the EUP campaign to contribute to this goal, highlighting the causes and, raising awareness on the consequences of EUP and reducing stigma towards pregnant girls as well as advocating for improved delivery of comprehensive sexuality education and access to services for adolescents and young people in the ESA region.

The campaign was officially launched on 20th June 2018 during the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Ministers of Education Meeting in Durban, South Africa and will run until December 2020.

The campaign takes place within the context of the ESA Ministerial Commitment Initiative, whose overall goal is to ensure that adolescents and young people in sub-Saharan African (SSA) are empowered, educated, healthy and resilient and, have the capacity to reach their full potential and contribute to the development of their community, country and region.

The campaign is aimed at reducing and preventing early and unintended pregnancy and affording girls who get pregnant an opportunity to continue with their education.

Specifically, the campaign will;

  • Advocate for the development and operationalization of EUP prevention, management and re-entry policies to facilitate the right of girls to complete education.
  • Advocate for the integration of CSE content on access to contraceptives, gender equality and power dynamics within relationships in developing the learners’ and adolescent girls’ knowledge and skills to prevent pregnancy.
  • Promote adolescents and young peoples’ access to health education and services (incl. contraception) by advocating for the establishment of referral system between schools and health facilities.
  • Raise awareness on the dangers of unsafe abortions among adolescent girls and young women and mobilize advocacy action to remove legal and policy barriers to safe abortions for all women.

UNESCO is a specialized UN agency leading work on health and well-being for children and young people within the formal, non-formal and informal education sectors. UNESCO will partner with SAfAIDS, UNFPA and Save the Children in implementing the campaign. Financial support for the campaign will come from Packard Foundation, Government of Sweden through the Regional Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) team in Lusaka, Zambia and, the Government of Ireland through Irish Aid.

UNESCO launched a campaign to reduce Early and Unintended Pregnancy (EUP) in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) on 20th June 2018 during the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Ministers of Education Meeting in Durban, South Africa.

The launch of the campaign is part of the ESA Ministerial commitment, which was endorsed in December 2013 by Ministers of Education and Health in the ESA region. The commitment has prompted significant progress by Member States to address the needs of adolescents and young people with respect to ensuring access to life skills-based HIV and sexuality education and youth-friendly SRH services. One of the targets of the ESA Commitment was to reduce EUP by 75% by the year 2020. In the 2017 Technical Coordination Group (TCG) meeting of the ESA Commitment, countries agreed to focus on the issue of EUP as an area requiring intervention across all countries and there was a clear recommendation to launch a Regional EUP campaign. Following this recommendation, UNESCO commissioned a situation analysis on EUP in 10 countries in ESA to assess the magnitude of the problem in the region. The study revealed that EUP in ESA is very high with at least 15% of 15-19 year olds ever having been pregnant.

Ministers at the launch of the campaign were invited to approve the recommendations from the situation analysis while renewing their commitment to attainment of the ESA commitment targets. In addition, to mandate country ESA Technical working groups to strengthen implementation and reporting of country progress and to commission the SADC Secretariat and its partners to support implementation of a Regional Campaign on Early and Unintended Pregnancy.

Based on the findings of the situational analysis, the campaign will have the following objectives,

  1. Advocate for the right of girls to complete education through the development and operationalisation of EUP prevention, management and re-entry policies.
  2. Advocate for the delivery of CSE that develops learners’ knowledge and skills to prevent pregnancy through integrating content on pregnancy prevention, access to contraceptives, gender equality and power dynamics within relationships.
  3. Increase adolescent access to health education and services (incl. contraception) through establishment of referral system between schools and health facilities.
  4. Eliminate school related gender based violence and engage boys and young men in learning and practicing pregnancy prevention.
  5. Shift cultural norms that put girls at risk of EUP and promote parent-child communication about sexual health

The findings from the situation analysis are summarised in the following video, which was also played during the launch of the campaign.