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UNFPA calls for Kenya Government and stakeholders to prioritise reproductive health issues of adolescents during World Population Day celebrations

UNFPA calls for Kenya Government and stakeholders to prioritise reproductive health issues of adolescents during World Population Day celebrations

World Population Day in Kenya was marked with pomp, music, recitals and entertainment as the country paid attention to the pressing issue of adolescent pregnancy. Under the domesticated rallying call to "Stop It!!!", UNFPA was joined by senior government officials led by Prof. Jacob Kaimenyi, the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, who was the chief guest; and his counterpart Ms. Ann Waiguru, the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Devolution and Planning.

The national event that was held at the Kihumbu-ini grounds in Kangemi, Nairobi was organised by the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD).

This high powered delegation called for enhanced male involvement in educating the youth about their sexuality as a way of stalling to age of sexual debut to a more mature age. Said Prof. Kaimenyi: "A lot of girls look up to their fathers as their role models and they listen to what their fathers say. But when the father is an absentee father, then he is not doing his job in taking care of his children."

Prof. Kaimenyi urged men to stop neglecting their responsibilities as fathers and participate more in shaping and moulding their children. "When you deny your children, especially your daughters, love, they will look for it elsewhere and then they will get pregnancy. We can no longer accept a situation where our children are giving birth to, and taking care of children. As a country we must all be involved in educating our boys and girls with the right information so that they can delay engaging in sex," said Prof Kaimenyi.

"And to the young people," Prof. Kaimenyi continued, "I want to tell you that true love waits. When a boy gives a girl pressure to have sex with him as a demonstration of her love for him, then he does not love her. True love waits."

His sentiments were echoed by Ms. Waiguru who said her ministry was putting in place interventions to reach out to the youth and equip them with the right information.

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UNFPA Kenya Representative ad interim, Dr. Benjamin O. Alli, called for adolescents and youth to be provided with age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education to develop their knowledge and skills to that they can adequately protect their health throughout their lives.

"Education and information, however, are not enough," Dr. Alli continued. "Good quality reproductive health services must also be readily available in order for adolescents to make informed choices and be healthy. Adolescent pregnancy is not just a health issue, it is a development issue.  It is deeply rooted in poverty, gender inequality, violence, child and forced marriage, power imbalances between adolescent girls and their male partners, lack of education, and the failure of systems and institutions to protect their rights. To bring these issues to global attention, this year's World Population Day is focusing on adolescent pregnancy." Read the rest of his speech here.

Also in attendance during the World Population festivities were students from primary schools, high schools and representatives from youth groups, who sang, danced and performed to the crowd's delight. Testimonies from two young women on their experiences after engaging in teenage sex with men who cheated them loved them, after which they got pregnant and got infected with HIV, moved the crowd and powerfully brought home the World Population day theme message ‘Adolescent Pregnancy, Stop It!!!