JIS News

Story Highlights

  • First Lady of Burkina Faso, Her Excellency Chantal Compaoré, is commending the country’s efforts to protect women and girls, including ensuring that teen mothers return to school.
  • Mrs. Compaoré was addressing students and staff at the Haile Selassie High School in Kingston on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, as part of her working visit to the island to learn about Jamaica’s experience in preventing adolescent pregnancies and supporting adolescent mothers.
  • The First Lady disclosed that apart from teenage pregnancies, her Government is also fighting to eradicate traditional practices, such as genital mutilation, which is very harmful to girls.

First Lady of Burkina Faso, Her Excellency Chantal Compaoré, is commending the country’s efforts to protect women and girls, including ensuring that teen mothers return to school.

Such measures, she said, are critical to gender and development and will ultimately ensure the country’s progress.

Mrs. Compaoré was addressing students and staff at the Haile Selassie High School in Kingston on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, as part of her working visit to the island to learn about Jamaica’s experience in preventing adolescent pregnancies and supporting adolescent mothers.

The First Lady praised the staff of the institution for the “exemplary work” they are doing and the support they are providing for the teenage mothers, who attend the institution.

She informed that in her homeland, once the pregnancy is visible, the student will have to leave school.

“The girls feel quite abandoned and it is for this reason, on the recommendation of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) that we came here to Jamaica to see exactly how you do things,” she stated.

“The situation of adolescent mothers in Burkina Faso is a big problem, that is why we are here to learn from your experience and see how we can translate the successes that you have had in your experience in our own country…so that our young girls can have the lovely smiles that you have,” she added.

Earlier this year, the Government announced that effective September 2013, it will be mandatory for all school-aged mothers to be re-integrated into the formal school system.

Principal of Haile Selassie, Lorenzo Ellis, said the institution is “far advanced” in this process as, for some time, it has been providing facility for adolescent mothers to resume their education.

Dean of Discipline at the school, Joseph Heron said the institution believes in social inclusiveness and the right of every child to receive an education.

He noted that the institution works closely with the Women’s Centre Foundation of Jamaica and the Child Development Agency (CDA), adding that the girls are treated with the utmost respect when they are re-integrated into the formal education system.

“Within the Guidance Department we have to reassure them that their status of motherhood is precious but it is also confidential. We don’t want them to come under any undue pressure from any member of the community or school, as such, those members of staff who are in the know, they keep it confidential…and offer the necessary support,” he said.

The First Lady disclosed that apart from teenage pregnancies, her Government is also fighting to eradicate traditional practices, such as genital mutilation, which is very harmful to girls.

“I have had to fight within the United Nations system to ensure that a resolution will be passed within the United Nations to condemn and to prohibit female circumcision across the world,” she stated.

She said that while genital mutilation is not an issue in Jamaica, countries need to collaborate to ensure that harmful practices, which have adverse health risks, especially on women, are eradicated.

During her visit, the First Lady toured sections of the Haile Selassie compound, including the computer laboratory, cosmetology department and the library. She also heard testimonials from teenage mothers, who attend the institution.

She was accompanied by Minister of Women Promotion and Gender, Nestorine Sangare; Head of Capacity Building in the Ministry, Koudraogo Kabore; and Chief of State Protocol, Office of the Prime Minister, Ambassador Elinor Felix, among others.

In Burkina Faso, recent studies show that adolescent girls and young women are the first victims of unwanted pregnancies and illegal/unsafe abortions, along with all the risks and consequences they cause.

Jamaica is supported by the UNFPA to protect and promote the rights of adolescents and young people towards responsible sexuality and access to high quality reproduction health services.