The St. Lucia Planned Parenthood Association, in collaboration with the Caribbean Family Planning Affiliate and International Planned Parenthood Association are the ones spearheading the launch of the campaign.
This initiative is being launched to coincide with the Caribbean Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Week which runs from October 18 – 22, 2021.
Adolescent pregnancy profoundly affects girls’ life trajectories. It hampers their psychosocial development, contributes to poor health outcomes for the girls and their offspring, negatively affects their educational and employment opportunities and contributes to the perpetuation of intergenerational cycles of poor health and poverty.
Adolescent mothers (ages 10-19 years) face higher risks of eclampsia, puerperal endometriosis and systemic infections, compared to women aged 20-24 years. Furthermore, babies of adolescent mothers face higher risks of low birth weight, preterm delivery and severe neonatal conditions.Despite recent socioeconomic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), adolescent fertility rates in the region remain unacceptably high—the second highest in the world—with major inequities between and within countries.
Girls from families in the lower wealth quintile, with lower levels of education, and from Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities are disproportionately affected by adolescent pregnancy. The rising trend in pregnancies in girls younger than 15 years is also highly concerning.
In 2019, The Government of Saint Lucia and UNICEF launched a landmark study on adolescents in Saint Lucia.UNICEF highlighted the fact that poverty remains significant among adolescents, with one out of three adolescents living in poverty. In addition, data showed that a third of adolescents are not in education, employment, or training (NEET) and the great majority of those over the school-age are unemployed.
A great deal of progress has been made and recent policy and legislative reforms have positively impacted adolescents. For example, on November 20th 2018, the Government of Saint Lucia passed the Child Justice Bill and the Children Care, Protection and Adoption Bill. Their passage was a crucial step to operationalize the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and can help address the neglect, abuse, exploitation, and violence affecting young people. Notwithstanding the gains, there is still work to be done on the National Adolescent Health Policy.
Unemployment, poverty, sexual abuse, early sexual initiation are all drivers of adolescent pregnancy in St. Lucia. Our program aims to address these drivers by working to increasing access to sexual and reproductive health services to adolescents and young adults, through education on human rights and availability of services and advocacy training for mothers.