A Working Mission from Burkina Faso, led by the First Lady of the West African country, Her Excellency Chantal Compaoré, arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport on June 24, 2013, for six-day working visit.
They were met on arrival by Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, and other officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which is spearheading the initiative.
The purpose of the mission was to learn about Jamaica’s experience in preventing adolescent pregnancies and supporting adolescent mothers.
The First Lady was accompanied by Minister of Women Promotion and Gender, Nestorine Sangare and Head of Capacity Building, Ministry of Women Promotion and Gender, Koudraogo Kabore.
On Tuesday, June 25, 2013, the First Lady called on the Information Minister and also participated in a study/tour of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation. In the afternoon, she met with officials from the Ministry of Health.
On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, the First Lady visited the Haile Selassie High School. In the afternoon she was involved in a small working lunch meeting with key gender leaders and University of the West Indies academia and also met with officials from the Ministry of Education.
Later in the evening, Mrs. Compaoré attended a cocktail reception hosted by the UNFPA, at Devon House.
While here, the First Lady also called on Their Excellencies, Governor-General, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen, and Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller.
Her Excellency, Mrs. Chantal Compaoré, formerly Terrasson, was born on September 25, 1954.
Madam Compaoré became First Lady in 1987 when her husband, Blaise Compaoré won the 1987 Presidential election.
She has one daughter, Imani Karel Jamila born on March 21, 1996 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
• Honorary President of the African Synergy against AIDS and Suffering
• Founding President of the SUKA Foundation
• Ambassador for Peace
• Goodwill Ambassador of the Inter African Committee on Female Genital Mutilation (IAC)
• Honorary President of the National Committee on Female Genital Mutilation
• Honorary President of Special Olympic Sports for People with Intellectual Disabilities
• Honorary President of the Burkina Faso Red Cross
• Goodwill Ambassador of the Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou
• Goodwill Ambassador of “Kick polio out of Burkina Faso” Vaccination Campaign
Since becoming the First Lady, in 1987, she has embarked on several philanthropic ventures in an effort to improve the welfare of the citizenry of Burkina Faso, with an emphasis on women and children.
She has done extensive work in the areas of health, education, women’s empowerment, child protection, and the use of sports as a catalyst for social change.
In 1987, Mrs. Compaoré launched the SUKA Foundation, which strives to eradicate illiteracy and malnutrition among women and children in impoverished areas of Burkina Faso.
In relation to her concern for women and girls, Mrs. Compaoré established a woman’s house in Balé. The shelter, which opened its doors on September 13, 2005, provides a safe haven for women from abuse, forced marriage and genital mutilation, all of which are common realities in Burkina Faso.
Ministry to Focus on Prevention in Addressing Teen Pregnancies
Permanent Secretary in the Education Ministry, Elaine Foster Allen, says that focus will be placed on prevention in reducing teen pregnancies in Jamaica.
She said that the Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) programme will be bolstered to reflect this focus, with a strong prevention message that seeks to identify and address the factors contributing to teen pregnancy.
“It is important that the message is about prevention rather than cure, and that is why we need to strengthen the HFLE programme. We have to make it common sense not to get pregnant as a teenager,” she stated.
She was addressing a meeting at the Ministry on Wednesday, June 26, with the visiting delegation from Burkina Faso, held by the First Lady of the West African country, Her Excellency Chantal Compaoré.
The strengthening of the HFLE programme, is one of several strategies being undertaken by the administration as part of its National Policy on Reintegrating School-aged Mothers into the Formal School System. The policy, which becomes effective September this year,aims to ensure that all adolescent mothers are able to complete their formal education.
The HFLE aims to mentally and physically prepare the nation’s youth for various changes and challenges they may experience on the journey to adulthood. The programme seeks to aid students in developing the skills required to make healthy life choices and to maintain the behaviours that make for their good health and support a better society.
Prevention messages will be integrated in school-based and national Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) and HFLE programmes. Men and boys, who father the children of student mothers, will also be targeted through the programmes of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF) and their ongoing partnerships with the security and justice sectors.
The Permanent Secretary noted that due to the intervention programmes of the Government, the percentage of girls, who fall out of the education system due to pregnancy, has been reducing over time, noting that the number “not that significant”.
According to statistics from the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), approximately 3,000 girls, 17 years and under, account for 18 per cent of all live births per year.
“We have about 45,000 children in (the) age cohort and you are talking about less than five per cent of our girls, who end up pregnant. That is nothing to be happy about; we would prefer that none of our girls got pregnant,” Ms. Foster Allen stated.
“The important thing for the Ministry of Education in terms of boys and girls, who are at school, is that we must press home the issues around health and family life education. But we also have to spread that message to the society at large because many of the problems start out in the society and there is a general acceptance of some of these things,” she stated.
Under the policy, it will be mandatory for all school-aged mothers to be reintegrated into the formal school system. Other key elements of the policy include: automatic referral of all pregnant girls to the WCJF; and monitoring of adolescent mothers to ensure they complete their education.
The meeting included Burkina Faso’s Minister of Women Promotion and Gender, Nestorine Sangare; the country’s non-resident Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Daniel Ouedraogo; and officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which is spearheading the initiative.
Mrs. Compaoré and Minister Sangare have both lauded the Jamaican Government on its strategies that have been implemented to cater to, prevent, and support adolescent girls who may become pregnant.
The First Lady, who departs the island on Saturday, June 29, has also voiced her intent to adopt and replicate some of the strategies in her homeland, since Jamaica has had a successful programme over the years.
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.
Contact: Alecia Smith-Edwards
First Lady of Burkina Faso Hails Efforts to Protect Women and 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, 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.