What you need to know:
- Peris Wangari is the founder of “Save the teenage girl initiative” involved in creating awareness on vices such as teenage pregnancies.
- The student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology started her work in Murang’a in March, and has so far traversed different areas of the county.
Conversations around the rise in teenage pregnancies, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic are loud. Furthermore, the circumstances under which these girls are predisposed to this social problem remains constant.
It is out of this reality that Peris Wangari has decided to become an advocate for change.
She is the founder of “Save the teenage girl initiative” involved in creating awareness on vices such as teenage pregnancies.
The student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology started her work in Murang’a in March, and has so far traversed different areas of the county.
Last Wednesday, she spent her day at Kangari Catholic Church in Kigumo Constituency where together with friends, they met school girls aged between 12-19 years.
“Due to the increased cases of teenage pregnancies and drug abuse, we decided to reach out to girls who are more vulnerable; we talk to them about body changes. We also conduct sex and reproductive health education awareness exercises to prevent teenage pregnancies," Wangari said.
“As university students, we want to start a programme called ‘adopt a girl’ and mentor them. This is one way of giving back to the society," added the First Year Clinical Medicine student.
During the event, gift hampers with soaps and sanitary pads were handed over to more than 100 beneficiaries.
Since the pandemic hit Kenya in mid-March, healthcare providers have warned about a potential rise in teenage pregnancies.
“We have so far, managed to help more than 500 girls; we will continue championing the rights of teenagers and calling out defilers and perpetrators of injustices to school going children," she said.
Jane Wanjiku who works with the Catholic Diocese of Murang'a at the children welfare department, said as a church, they are working closely with partners to bring the cases down or eliminate them completely.
The national government committed to scale up sex education, beginning with courses in primary schools, but efforts to make good on this promise have been met with fierce opposition from conservative and religious groups.
Currently, when sex education is taught at all, they focus largely on HIV prevention and abstinence — which means students’ knowledge of reproductive and sexual health is often limited.
“Parents do not talk to their children about sex as some view it as a taboo. So we expect that the teachers should tell our children about sex and about how to protect themselves,’” said Dr Kariuki,
'The teachers on their part say it is the work of the parents to teach their children about sex’... So now you’ll find that the children will go back to the internet, they’ll go back to their friends and they’ll try to discover, " he added.