Harare, Zimbabwe – 24 October 2019: Over 2,000 students, teachers and civil society representatives convened at the Makomo Primary School in the outskirts of Harare for the national launch of the “Let’s Talk!” Campaign on early and unintended pregnancy (EUP).
In attendance at the festive event were high level dignitaries and government officials including Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, First Lady of Zimbabwe; Prof. Hubert Gijzen, UNESCO’s Regional Director for Southern Africa; Angelica Broman, First Secretary at the Swedish Embassy in Harare; the Ministers of Education, Health, and Provincial Affairs; and heads of UN agencies and NGOs.
As part of the ESA Ministerial commitment endorsed in December 2013, the “Let’s Talk!” Campaign aims to empower young people, especially girls, with the knowledge, information and support to prevent EUP.
“Today we are launching the ‘Let’s Talk!’ Campaign on early and unintended pregnancy… I want to recognise the young people, the learners present here in such large numbers… this
is about you, this is about your future, your rights, and your lives” said Prof. Gijzen.
The key message “let’s talk about pregnancy at the right time” was echoed through narratives of shared responsibility of families, communities, and institutions to address the root causes of EUP.
The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Prof. Paul Mavhima said that the “Let’s Talk!” Campaign is coming just at the right time when his ministry is implementing multiple interventions that respond directly to the plight of the girl child, most notably, the prioritisation of the Education Amendment Bill. He highlighted that among the Bill’s key provisions are efforts to outlaw all forms of discrimination in schools including on the basis of pregnancy. To this end, the Bill provides for all learners to have access to quality education after experiencing pregnancy.
“For too long, when an adolescent becomes pregnant, we have pointed the finger at her. It is time that we pointed the finger at ourselves. If a girl gets pregnant that is because we have not provided her with the information, education, training and support she needs to prevent herself becoming pregnant”, said Dr. Obadiah Moyo, Minister of Health and Child Care.
Adolescent pregnancy remains a major challenge and contributor to maternal and child mortality, fuelled by grinding poverty across rural and urban communities in Zimbabwe. Perinatal deaths are 50% higher among babies born to mothers under the age of 20 years and adolescent mothers are more likely to have underweight babies at risk of infections and death during the early stages of infancy.
The First Lady, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa concluded the launch event by saying “ the ‘Let’s Talk’ campaign [is] an opportunity to amplify our actions… strategic partners [are] supporting the Government’s efforts to ensure that the campaign reaches all parts of the country. Let us all amplify our voices against EUP in churches, schools, health centres, community meetings, workplaces and social spaces. ‘Let’s Talk!’ Pregnancy at the Right Time. ‘Let’s Talk’ Health, Education and Rights for Pregnant Girls”.
To learn more about the “Let’s Talk!” Campaign, please visit youngpeopletoday.org or follow us on twitter @ LetsTalkEUP