Teenage girls who have been impregnated will be taken back to school to pursue their dreams, Public Service and Gender Cabinet Secretary Prof. Margaret Kobia has said.
Prof. Kobia said that the government has a policy in place that allows schoolgirls who get pregnant to resume studies in school when the baby is born.
“However prevention is what we are looking for because we know that out of those underage girls who get pregnant, less than 20 percent go back to school because getting somebody to take care of their child while they are at school is a challenge. There is also stigma associated with going back to school and mostly these girls are coming from poor backgrounds,” said the CS.
Speaking on Wednesday at the National Youth Service (NYS) headquarters while handing over Covid-19 donations to Women Parliamentary Caucus, the CS explained that they strongly believe that the more years a girl spends in school and attains the highest qualification the better the chances of their quality of life and therefore they want girls to go back to school.
“We have heard that most of the pregnancies are by people known to them with some being close family members. As a Ministry we want to make sure that we prevent these teenage pregnancies and there are many interventions to prevent them including counseling from the parents and avoiding incidences where girls will be exposed to the dangers of being sexually abused,” said Prof. Kobia.
Prof. Kobia said that impregnating an underage girl is defilement and called for maximum punishment for those found culpable.
The CS said that Covid-19 has affected men and women differently and they are looking at ways of offering tailor-made solutions for everyone so that they can make a difference.
“We are working with women parliamentarians so that we can have solutions oriented interventions to help the most vulnerable members of society cope with the effects of Covid-19,” said Prof. Kobia.
The donations included 7, 500 facemasks from the NYS with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) donating 600 kits-which are specific for boys, girls dignity kits and the family kits, 600 jerry cans, 600 buckets and the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) gave out hand sanitizers.
The ministry’s Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rachel Shebesh said political alignments should not be allowed to erode the gains that women have fought for.
“Women who hold leadership positions either by election or appointment have the responsibility not to erode the gains that we have made on gender and women empowerment which was fought for by women who came before us. We must stand tall and proud by emulating the women who came before us like Phoebe Asiyo, Eddah Gachukia, Julia Ojiambo, Nyiva Mwendwa the distinguished women fought for our rights even when it was not time for women to be in politics,” said Shebesh.
The CAS added, “Politically, we cannot be on the same boat, in fact it cannot work, we want women in all these boats because we don’t know which will get into power but we must not let the gains of women be eroded.”
Kandara Member of Parliament Alice Wahome who is the chair of the Women Parliamentary Caucus said that gender-based violence which is abnormal is getting normalised where women are being battered at home by their husbands, brothers and relatives and are being thrown out of their homes with their children.
“Whenever a woman is battered a child is either physically or emotionally battered and we must see that from a gender perspective,” said MP Wahome adding that it becomes hard to eradicate the vice since the child grows up knowing that gender based violence is normal.
Wahome praised President Uhuru Kenyatta for his bold stand against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which he said should end by 2022 adding, “this is a very bold move since it goes against some cultures and the President needs the support of elected women leaders because it affects women more.”
“We have a challenge of underage pregnancies and my constituency was recently trending because there were 20 underage girls who were said to be pregnant. I went looking for the information and found out that only four girls were underage with the rest being above 18 years so there was a lot of exaggeration. We need a proper audit of the numbers especially those that are as a result of Covid-19,” said Wahome.
Other elected women MP’s present were Martha Wangari (Gilgil), Sarah Lekorere (Laikipia North), Edith Nyenze (Kitui West), Rachel Nyamai (Kitui South), Lilian Gogo (Rangwe) and Eve Ombara (Kabondo Kasipul).