International Day of the Girl Child: Teen Pregnancy and Education

The Miseducation of Latin American Girls: Poor Schooling Makes Pregnancy a Rational Choice from BIDtv on Vimeo.

The United Nations General Assembly on 19 December 2011 voted to designate 11 October as the ‘International Day of the Girl Child’. The day promotes girls’ human rights, highlights gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys and addresses the various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the globe.

Numerous studies have shown that educating girls can make more dramatic, positive changes for both the individual and society than any other single intervention. Education expands social and economic opportunities and promotes participation for both boys and girls. Girls’ education, furthermore, has cascading effects on the family, community and nation.

In this context, we know that one of the most relevant problemas of the young girls in latin america is the poor education that they receive. It affects in many aspects of their lives, one of the most relevant is the way they understand their sexual life.

A recent study (World Population Day) revealed that Latin America and the Caribbean place second in the world, behind only Sub-Saharan Africa, in terms of adolescent pregnancies. The proportion of births that take place during adolescence is about 2% in China, 18% in Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 50% in sub-Saharan Africa.

Many girls who become pregnant have to leave school. This has long-term implications for them as individuals, their families and communities. Studies have shown that delaying adolescent births could significantly lower population growth rates, potentially generating broad economic and social benefits, in addition to improving the health of adolescents. According to data collected by the IDB in six countries (Bolivia, Haiti, Colombia, Nicaragua, Peru, and Dominican Republic) the relation between adolescent pregnancies and educational levels is stronger in Latin America than in other regions.

Policies have to seek to reduce the rate of adolescent pregnancies they need to do more than simply inform and give access to contraceptives. Schools play a vital role in the socialization of the next generation, and educational systems need to assume the task of both directing and evaluating programs that aim to reduce teenage pregnancies.