JIS News

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  • The Government of Jamaica has committed to providing additional technical support to the Government of Burkina Faso, as part of efforts to share Jamaica’s experience in preventing adolescent pregnancies and supporting adolescent mothers.
  • This was disclosed by Minister with Responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, following a study tour of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, Trafalgar Road offices in Kingston, on Tuesday, June 25.
  • The touring party also included: Minister of Women Promotion and Gender, Nestorine Sangare; Burkina Faso’s non-resident Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Daniel Ouedraogo; officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which has spearheaded the initiative.

The Government of Jamaica has committed to providing additional technical support to the Government of Burkina Faso, as part of efforts to share Jamaica’s experience in preventing adolescent pregnancies and supporting adolescent mothers.

This was disclosed by Minister with Responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, following a study tour of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, Trafalgar Road offices in Kingston, on Tuesday, June 25, 2013.

The study tour formed part of the activities of the Working Mission from Burkina Faso, led by the First Lady of the West African country, Her Excellency Chantal Compaoré.

The touring party also included: Minister of Women Promotion and Gender, Nestorine Sangare; Burkina Faso’s non-resident Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Daniel Ouedraogo; officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which has spearheaded the initiative.

Ms. Falconer told JIS News that the modalities of bi-lateral agreement are being worked out, and noted that additional discussions will commence at a later date.

“What I have asked the team at Jamaica House to do, and they will be working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, is for us to arrange how we can offer technical support to the people of Burkina Faso, in ensuring that they are able to set up centres similar to our Women’s Centre,” she added.

The Minister noted that through the assistance offered at the centres, teenage mothers can be reintegrated into the formal education system.

“The girls can cut down on the number of pregnancies and they can find their meaningful place in society,” she said.

Senator Falconer said the Government is committed to the continued education of teenage mothers, and informed that effective September this year, it will be mandatory for all school-aged mothers to be reintegrated into the formal school system.

“Before we had that policy entrenched, it was up to the discretion of the teachers and we felt that was not good enough and as a Government, we are committed to see our girls, even if they become pregnant, have the opportunity to go back to school and make a meaningful contribution to society, and the only way they can do that is through education,” she told JIS News, adding that the Government will continue to support centres across the island.

Ms. Falconer said she is impressed with the passion of the team from the West African country, noting that the sharing of experience and culture is one of the best ways to enrich the world.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Compaoré said she is impressed with the mechanisms that have been established to cater to, prevent, and support adolescent girls who may become pregnant.

The First Lady, who departs the island on Saturday, June 29, noted that it is the intention of her Government to adopt and replicate some of the strategies in her homeland, since Jamaica has had a successful programme over the years.

“The whole problem of teenage pregnancy is extremely important and we hope that after we leave here, we will become leaders in West Africa in this particular subject and we will do everything possible to get the adolescent mothers into the programme,” she said.

For her part, Acting Executive Director, Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, Dr. Zoe Simpson, informed that since the inception in 1978, the second pregnancy rate for adolescent girls has been below two per cent, adding that approximately 1,500 girls use the facility annually islandwide.

Early pregnancy in schools is a major concern for the persons in charge of the promotion and protection of young people and adolescent rights.

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. In this country, teenage pregnancies are also an issue of concern.

The Women’s Centre addresses the problems of interrupted education and the accompanying social issues associated with teenage pregnancy.

It focuses on education, training and developmental counselling, thereby improving levels of employment and productivity among the young women, and delaying unwanted pregnancies.

Some of the other services offered by the centre are: ‘walk-in’ counselling service for women and men; counselling for fathers and parents of teen mothers; skill training for both males and females in the age group 17 to 25; confidential counselling service for children of any age, and group peer counselling sessions at the Kingston Counselling Clinic; and day care facilities for babies of teens and working mothers.