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ABC Secretariat hold workshop on Gender-based violence and teen pregnancy

ABC Secretariat hold workshop on Gender-based violence and teen pregnancy

Keynote Address Delivered By Ms. Nanette Thomas National Coordinator And Second-In-Command Attitudinal And Behavioural Change Secretariat At The Opening Ceremony At The Workshop On Gender-Based Violence And Teenage Pregnancy At The Drill Shed Lungi Barracks

Mr. Chairman, Members of the High Table, Senior and Junior Officers of the 15th Battalion of the Lungi Garrison, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.  I am very honoured and deeply humbled for giving me the opportunity to serve as Keynote Speaker at this very important workshop. The topic gender-based violence and teenage pregnancy is very close to my heart, and I want to thank the organizers for putting this workshop together. I will focus my attention this morning on Teenage Pregancy.

There are many different problems that teenagers face today in this sex oriented world. Some of these problems are great like drugs and alcohol, while some are minor like pimples. But among these problems teen pregnancy is a major one. It is major because of many reasons. Societal changes are a main reason. Society portrays sex as such a wonderful experience without showing the real consequences. They see it on the TV, movies and they hear it in the music they listen to. Teens don’t realize the repercussions of sex. Some teens do not have a positive surrounding at home. Teen girls may not have anyone to love, and feel having a baby might fill that void. Parents are an important influence on their children’s decision about sex, love and values. They also influence whether their child becomes pregnant or cause pregnancy. Parent/Child relationships influence teen’s sexual activity and can make a big difference. A lack of knowledge about sexual transmitted diseases and  pregnancy is also a reason why teen pregnancy is happening. Many teens haven’t heard exactly what they need to know about teen pregnancy.

Being a teenage mother is a difficult task. There are many difficult decisions and problems they must endure and consider. Some decisions include keeping the baby, or getting an abortion are all complicated, and a lot of times important people like the baby’s father or the parents want something different than the teen girl does. The risks to the baby and the teen are higher than if she had a baby when she was more than 20 years old.  Pregnant teens are at higher risk than older women for having a low-birth weight baby because they are less likely to get good prenatal care. Many teens are not emotionally or financially ready for a baby. They have kids without thinking it through all the way and understanding the responsibilities. There are many other problems that teen mothers have to undergo. “Teen moms are less likely to graduate high school and more likely to be in poverty.”(This is because they can’t go to school; they have to take care of the baby. But without a good education, it is hard to find a job that pays well enough to support themselves and a baby. The children of the teenage moms have to face many problems and obstacles in their lives as well. They have to deal with the lack of a father figure, poverty and mental health problems. The problems of a teenage mother and her children eventually become the problem of all of society.

Teenage pregnancy is a major problem that is on the rise, but there are many solutions to this problem. It first should start in the home. Parents should talk to their kids about sex and the repercussions of it. They should talk to them about abstinence and how important that is and that is the best birth control. “Children are more likely to respect parent’s feelings if they know how strongly they feel.” If parent know that there children are having sex then provide them with contraceptives. They should also talk to them about the many sexual transmitted diseases. And talk to them about the responsibilities of pregnancy. The Birth rate among teens is increasing and it is a major problem. Because of much reason why it is happening, younger and younger teens are having babies. School boys are impregnating school girls, pikin dae born pikin.

Student there is no miracle when it comes to education.  The only miracle is for you to study hard and make your book your best friend.  Education is the vehicle to social development. Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world and the nation. Remember education is the only instrument that will take you to upward mobility.

 In the poem, “Betrothal in B Minor,” it implies that marriage is a war and a struggle in life. Getting married before the age of eighteen would be a huge struggle for the girl. In many countries, including Sierra Leone young girls between the ages of seven and fifteen are often married to older men by the force of their families. During this marriage, girls face extreme hardships including the lack of education, emotional adversity, and poor social skills. I want to encourage all parents allow your girl child to go to school.  Remember when you educate a woman you have educated a nation.

Today women hold very high positions in the Sierra Leone Military and I am proud that Sierra Leone can boast of the first woman Brigadier in no less a person than Brigadier General Kestoria O. Kabia, Thank you for inviting me.  I want all of you female officers to emulate this fine officer and tell yourself every morning Lord help me so that I can be like Brigadier Kestoria O. Kabia. Self-fulfilling prophecy is the best therapy for mankind. It is believed that when you want it said ask a man, but when you want it done ask a woman.

The specialization of the Sierra Leone military will continue to place women in senior military ranks. Let me encourage you all please send your girls to the military so that they can serve their country to the best of their knowledge and ability.

Let my end by saying that Transparency and Accountability start at individual level, then family, community and nation. If we want to change the attitudes of leaders in government, we must first change our own attitudes towards those closest to us first, strong nations are built from strong families that contribute to strong communities that naturally produce strong and ethical leadership. If we cannot be transparent and accountable in our own homes, then we cannot expect to be seen and transparent and accountable when we are given roles of responsibility in the community or at national levels.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen it is my singular honour to declare this workshop open and to wish the participant happy deliberations.

ABC Secretariat

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