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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

President Koroma say Girl Pikin : Girl Pikin for tote exercise book en go learn
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May 14, 2013, 17:20
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Our headline for today is in local Krio parlance to ensure the message spreads faster. It reflects position of President Koroma insofar as burning issue of teenage pregnancy goes. First Lady of Nigeria, Dame Patience Goodluck-Jonathan is currently visiting Sierra Leones First Lady to lend support to fight against teenage pregnancy.

 

"Teenage girls must be schoolgirls, not mothers. They must be book carriers, not baby carriers," President said at launching of National Strategy to combat this growing menace. See below.


Speech Delivered by President, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma on the Occasion of the Official Launch of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy and 2nd National Consultative Forum of Traditional and Religious Leaders on Monday 13th May, 2013. 

 

Mr. Chairperson,

Your Excellency the First Lady of Nigeria,

Honorable Ministers, Honorable Members of the Parliament,

Distinguished Representatives of the Donor Community, Development Partners,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

 


I am very proud to be here with you today to say No to Teenage Pregnancy. This is a menace that must be stopped, and I am very convinced that together, we will achieve this worthy goal. I say this because I see in this room determined representatives from all sectors of society; from local communities to members of the Parliament, from civil society to Honorable Ministers, young people, parents, teachers, health workers, social workers and many more. That you are here today shows how committed you are to putting an end to this assault on the future of girls, our communities and the entire country.

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, despite the vast efforts deployed by the Government of Sierra Leone and development partners, adolescent girls remain a most vulnerable group in our country. Teenage pregnancy is among the most pervasive problems impacting the education, health, socio-economic and political empowerment of young women and girls in Sierra Leone. This cannot be the future that we prepare for our daughters; this cannot be destiny of our younger sisters; and we must act to assert a better tomorrow for them, their families, communities and the entire country.


 

Twelve months ago, I alerted all stakeholders and requested that a plan of action be developed. I insisted that all sectors of the population be mobilized in a nationwide effort to target adolescents and young people. Teenage pregnancy has multiple causes and diverse consequences. This was why I set up a multi-sectoral committee, involving all concerned Ministries as well as key stakeholders among the partner UN-Agencies, NGOs and civil society organizations. I gave this committee the responsibility to develop a comprehensive strategy addressing Teenage Pregnancy. After eight (8) months of consultations, research and discussions, we now have an innovative, comprehensive and ambitious document.

 

 

This National Strategy is now our roadmap for meeting the challenges posed by teenage pregnancy to the countrys prosperity. My government will ensure that this country achieves the objectives set out in the National Strategy. My Ministers will be held accountable for the achievements of the Strategy. I see this initiative as a good test for the capacity of all stakeholders to be able to work together, in a coordinated way and to collectively address this pervasive problem.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, teenage pregnancy threatens the prosperity of nations; it leads to tremendous long term suffering in a country; and blights the destiny of mother and child. It denies girls the benefits of education, and compromises a countrys ability to ensure gender equity, enhance growth and transform itself.

 

Teenage girls must be schoolgirls, not mothers. They must be book carriers, not baby carriers; they must spend their nights doing homework rather than changing nappies. We must give back to teenage girls the tools for a better future, and that tool is education.

 

It has been proven educating girls yields greater benefits for a nation in terms of health, productivity, and wealth creation and responsible investments. We have been moving along that path, expanding free tuition for girls in schools and paying for young women studying the sciences at tertiary institutions. Women who have more education and greater control of their own income tend to have fewer children and fertility rates have shown to be inversely related to national income growth. Girls and young women delaying marriage and having fewer children means a bigger chance of increasing per capita income, higher savings, and more rapid growth.

 

When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their families. The impact of investing in girls is intergenerational.

 

But the battle to reduce Teenage Pregnancy cannot be won if we do not unite our efforts. All must play their role. Religious leaders must play their role; traditional leaders must take a lead, teachers are pivotal, as are every one of us; ministers, parents, health workers, and young people. We must all part and parcel of the implementation of the strategy.

 

This is why, during the next two-days, Traditional and Religious leaders, young people, technicians, and actors in all the sectors concerned will be exchanging experiences and knowledge to develop a nation-owned solution to Teenage pregnancy.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, today, 41% of the population in Sierra Leone is under 18 years of age. They are the hope of this country, they should be the mainstay of our efforts; and we must act to spare them, and this land that we love, the burden of teenage pregnancy.

 

We must assert this commitment, we must implement this strategy; a good elder is one who keeps the pact to guide younger ones along the paths of education, morality and development. When we do this, we empower our girls to seize the destiny of greatness that opportunities in the globalized world hold in store for them.

 

Now therefore is the time to say no to teenage pregnancy. As I officially launch the National Strategy for the Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy, I am inviting you to add your voice unto mine in saying no to Teenage Pregnancy.


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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