“As a lady who was once a young mother, I’m sad that if I was in Tanzania my fate would have been sealed by someone who should instead be creating an environment for me as a citizen to thrive. As a woman passionate about young mothers I am angered, disappointed, disgusted and irritated.”
These are the words of Fiona Okadia, founder of Amira Africa, an organization that works with young mothers, including teen moms. Fiona herself had an unplanned pregnancy in her first year of campus –at Daystar University at the age of 21 years, an experience that resulted in the birth of her son and consequently of Amira Africa. These are Fiona’s sentiments regarding the statement by Tanzania’s President on the expulsion of pregnant girls from school.
To catch you up a little bit first, HE John Pombe Magufuli, while speaking at a public rally in Dar es Salaam, basically said that once a school girl gets pregnant, “she is done”. He also argued that allowing the girls back in school would only encourage their peers to engage in sex.
A law passed in 2002 allows for the expulsion of pregnant schoolgirls. The law says the girls can be expelled and excluded from school for “offences against morality” and “wedlock”.
Mr Magufuli said that young mothers would be distracted if they were allowed back in school:
“After calculating some few mathematics, she’d be asking the teacher in the classroom: ‘Let me go out and breastfeed my crying baby.'”
He said that men who impregnate the schoolgirls should be imprisoned for 30 years and “put the energy they used to impregnate the girl into farming while in jail”. –BBC.
Now back to Fiona.
In her reactionary statement to the Tanzanian President’s remarks, Fiona continued:
“I don’t think that pregnancy is a disease that other girls in school should be protected from contracting. I also don’t think that sidelining pregnant girls or teen moms who decide to return to school in order to better their lives and that of their children is in order, when you have 8,000 girls dropping out of school each year due to early pregnancies in your country.
You may end up raising an army of illiterate women in Tanzania because one factor that leads to economic growth in a country is high literacy levels, and so if each year we are having 8,000 girls going back home, then do the math. In this day and age where both women and men have fought for the rights of girls from discrimination and a sitting president decides to make a remark that is total nonsense!
Surely even if you want to control the number of girls who are getting pregnant (which I agree with you should be controlled) there are better ways of doing it than denying them the right to education. In my opinion, I think these girls need the education even more because you are otherwise condemning them to a life of poverty.
I do support that something needs to be done to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in our countries, what I do not agree with is such a policy. What this will lead to is ladies procuring abortions to stay in school and avoid this kind of discrimination. Is that a better option?”
Those are Fiona’s sentiments. How about you? What are your thoughts on HE Magufuli’s stance?
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