Rwanda’s First Lady Jeannette Kagame has used the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLD) platform to encourage women not to rest until every early teenage pregnancy is prevented in Africa.
Mrs. Kagame was speaking at the 24th OAFLD General Assembly where African First Ladies are meeting to decide how best they can be part of the continent’s development agenda “Africa agenda 2063, which is aimed at a prosperous peaceful, democratic continent in the next 43 years.
In her view, Mrs. Kagame started by sharing the experience of her foundation- Imbuto foundation’s efforts to enhance Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) in Rwanda, which is a national priority, for Rwanda’s socio-economic development by 2030.
She said that through a multi-sectoral response, and the support of partners, Rwanda has invested in designing and implementing regional commitments, youth-friendly policies, legal and institutional frameworks, to preserve Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) rights.
This pursuit has seen Imbuto foundation inject $30,000 funds in 2019 outstanding youth led projects that can address the problem of teenage pregnancies which stands at a rate of 7% on the national level.
One of the winning projects was a TV show dubbed “Kitchen Doctors” in which two Kigali doctors will use kitchen equipment to demonstrate male sexual reproductive cases, and how reproductive products like how condoms have to be used by men to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
The show has a style of fun but educative way to show that men are also responsible in preventing pregnancies.
Imbuto foundation also has partnered with Plan International and Rwanda Parliament to push the “Girls Get Equal” campaign-a youth led social change campaign that is aimed at ensuring every girl and young woman has power over her own life and can shape the world around her.
Informed by the fact that teenage pregnancies rates which is a national concern back home, and a concern for sub- Saharan Africa, Mrs. Kagame, who sits on the OAFLA executive committee said that no leader should be comfortable with this.
“How comfortable can we be, knowing that in East and Southern Africa, nearly one in five adolescent girls are getting pregnant? We must not rest as long as in Sub-Saharan Africa, at least one third, of early pregnancies are unplanned,” Mrs. Kagame urged other First Ladies.
With this challenge, she advised on the way forward suggesting policy, legal reforms in addressing age of marriage, consent to sexual activities, access to SRH information and services should be treated as a matter of urgency.
Mrs. Kagame also urged her fellow First Ladies to further use the OAFLAD platform to learn from each other’s best practices, for the true uplifting of women in their respective communities.