The number of underage pregnancies is on the rise in most developing countries. According to a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report released in the year 2013, child marriage is one of the main courses of early pregnancies mainly in the sub-Saharan Africa as well as South Asia. The report titled “Mother in Childhood: Facing the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy” highlights that Africa has the highest number of adolescent pregnancies in the world.

Niger is leading in the list while out of the top 20 countries, 18 of them are African. 51 percent of women aged between 20 and 24 years reported having gotten expectant at the age of 18 in Niger. The impact has a broad range of adverse effects on the affected girls’ education, health and economic goals, a course that jeopardizes the entire life of the affected underage mother. The aftermath is poverty, lack of power and exclusion or a lifetime. The affected age bracket is not only below 18 years; underage pregnancies in developing countries are also occurring among girls as young as below 14 years.

Adolescent Girls in Developing Countries

According to the UNFPA report, there are approximately 580 million girls worldwide who are in the adolescence age bracket. Surprisingly, four out of five of these girls are in third world countries. Babatunde, the Executive Director of UNFPA, notes that investment on the girls has the potential to shape the future of humanity. Thus, early pregnancies in developing countries can be seen as a big hindrance to economic progress. As a result tyvek suits need to be employed to take care of the tender growing population.

Teen Pregnancy Declining Yet Still High

The 2013 United Nations Report noted that despite the fact underage pregnancies are declining in third world countries, the numbers are still alarming. According to the report, over 7 million girls still give birth while under the age of eighteen years. Two million of these girls are usually under 14 years old. The early parenthood gives rise to serious long-term health and social effects. Babatunde Osotimehin viewed 14-year-old mother as a victim of human rights violation.

Possible Causes of Teen Pregnancy

In the report, Dr. Babatunde wrote that majority of underage pregnancies are not deliberate, but due to lack of choices. The girls find themselves in circumstances that are out of hand such as lack of access to education, healthcare, and employment. The UN report further cited early pregnancies as the indicators of poverty, peer, and societal pressures as well as powerlessness. Most often the result is sexual violence or coercion.

Third World Countries on the Lead

95 percent of teen pregnancies worldwide are in third world countries. The United Nations October 2013 report’s statistics showed that 10 percent, 22 percent and 28 percent of women aged 20-24 confessed to having given birth to at least one child at the age of 18 in the Middle East, Southern Asia and Western and Central Africa respectively. Approximately 20,000 girls under 18 years old give birth daily in developing countries. Child Marriages is the primary contributing factor as 9 out of every 10 of the births are in married couples or girls in unions.

Babatunde notes that there has however been a declining trend in teen pregnancies below 15 years in the past decade. This improvement, according to the UNFPA executive, is attributed to the decreasing rate of early marriages and the rise of arranged marriages. Newborn adoption can salvage the future of the young mothers while there is a need for urgent action to stop new occurrences.

Call For Action

Babatunde mentioned in the report that there is still need for immediate action as the numbers of cases of underage pregnancies are still high. An important observation made was that some of the teen pregnancy victims chose to become pregnant. Improvement of health care, education, and income opportunities can encourage the teenage girls to wait. According to the UN report, the focus should not be concentrated on the behaviors of the girls. Instead, new approaches such as ending early marriage can help curb .early motherhood. There is also a need for gender equality.

 

By: Jennifer Livingston