Today I go to visit my neighbour while she is sitting with some of the young girls from the area. Six girls, each of them under nineteen years of age – and five of them have a baby hanging from their breast.
So many of the global conversations are about curbing pregnancy in school girls in developing countries. Aid programs have introduced contraceptives, promoted higher education for girls but the reality is: the impact in remote areas is small.
Pregnancy is not just pregnancy in a country like Malawi. Pregnancy is your value, your worth, your future.
It is commonly accepted that pregnancy equates to marriage. Once a girl is pregnant she is often taken to the in-laws and passed into their responsibility. To a young girl, that means she has a secure future. She can now ensure a roof over her head and food in her stomach.
To take a contraceptive is like denying your worth. Preventing yourself from a set future. Many women fear once they start that contraceptives will prevent them from getting pregnant forever.
To prioritize education is hard to comprehend when the majority of young people can rarely afford school fees for college or university. Then, to have high enough marks to be chosen for a program. When you compare the quality of education in a rural setting to an urban setting, how will your marks compare?
The way to the future is through an obligation of stature. Pregnancy.