Girls Face Abandonment – Gender-based violence, poverty and inequality perpetuate child pregnancy in Mexico

The study reported that in 2019 there were 66 or more births per 1,000 teenagers in the states with the highest birth rates among 15- to 19-year-olds.

Mexico City, September 4 (Nevertheless).- V 2015during the six-year term of former President Enrique Peña Nieto, the National Strategy for the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy (ENAPEA) with purpose prevention and reduction the speed of pregnancy in girls and adolescents. Seven years later, Mexico continues to fight against the tide to control a demographic problem that, far from abating, continues to grow.

The states of Zacatecas, Durango, Tlaxcala, Chihuahua, Aguascalientes, Puebla, Michoacan, Coahuila, Tabasco, Guerrero and Chiapas recorded the highest adolescent birth rates in the country, according to the report Early pregnancy in Mexico published by the Inequality Research Network of El Colegio de México. The reasons? Inequality, lack of information, socio-economic level and of course gender-based violence.

“One thing we realize is that the protection of adolescents is very heterogeneous and this is related to this pressure of the government, but it also requires a lot of social pressure, for example we noticed that the participation of civil society is very important because it helps with highly specialized staff to implement the strategy and sometimes it is very well received in some settlements”, he shared in an interview with However Dr. Vanessa Arvizu Reinaga, one of the authors of the report.

“The issue of comprehensive sexuality education is in the curricula and programs, but there are two organizations that do not want to teach these subjects or this content because they do not want to get into trouble with the society of mothers and fathers, because they feel sorry for them or because they are not agree with this idea, then this is also a social challenge that we have. Including medical personnel, for example in Baja California, where any reason is allowed for abortion up to twelve weeks, there are medical personnel who make conscientious objections, refuse to perform them, or do not have personnel sufficiently trained and sensitive to care for these girls and these adolescents and to provide them with the information that abortion implies, but also about the risks to the health of the mother and the child that carry on with the pregnancy,” she explained.

The study reported that in 2019 there were 66 or more births per 1,000 teenagers in the states with the highest fertility rates among young people between the ages of 15 and 19, as opposed to Mexico City and Baja California Sur, where the break point was rate of 59 births per thousand adolescents.

At least eight subjects out of the eleven who are in this group have taken preventive actions such as conducting sexual and reproductive health seminars, training, monitoring in educational institutions; and care actions related to cases of violence, including medical care and access to legal termination of pregnancy, legal and psychological support, and health care workshops for adolescent mothers.

Map showing the specific fertility rate for women aged 15 to 19. Photo: Colegio de México Inequality Research Network

“Early unintended pregnancy is closely linked to social inequalities and, very importantly, gender-based violence. In terms of social inequalities, we note here that Indigenous adolescents are most affected, being 1.6 times more likely to become pregnant than non-Indigenous people, 1.7 times more likely in rural areas than in large cities and 5.1 times more often among the poorest women with respect to the richest,” Dr. Arvizu pointed out.

“This is no doubt also related to the issue of gender-based violence. An issue we also cover more deeply in the reports is child marriage, which is also normalized due to usage and custom in some regions. Here the point is also to see and make this difference from girls under 15 years of age that many times these marriages are with people much older than them, sometimes they have internalized this idea of ​​marriage without knowing what it involves or without having sexual and reproductive information. Many of their rights are violated and they are very exposed to the fact that the result of their pregnancy is, for the most part, a product of rape and violence, including with adolescents,” he added.

In September 2021, Josefina Lira, former president of the Mexican College of Specialists in Gynecology and Obstetrics (Comego), indicated that Mexico has the highest teenage pregnancy rate among all countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with 390 thousand births per year for children under 19 years of age.


Despite the fact that one of ENAPEA’s goals is to eradicate births to girls between the ages of 10 and 14 and to reduce the specific fertility rate of adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 by 50 percent by 2030, this program continues to be considered hindered from external factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the report Early pregnancy in MexicoMexico’s National Population Council estimated a 30 percent increase in teenage pregnancies between 2020 and 2021, which is just over 29,000 additional births over previously projected.

“I agree with ENAPEA, that is, I know the targets are ambitious, but the ideal would be for girls to have no pregnancies and for half of the adolescents to say ‘I have decided in a conscious and informed way that I want to continue my pregnancy’.” The actions that are being taken now will not have an immediate effect, even if comprehensive sexuality education is provided at the primary level,” Arvizu shared about ENAPEA’s 2030 goal.

“Part of what we propose in the report is, for example, setting intermediate targets that can be given even across the different territorial and population differences. It’s not the same case with Guerrero and Chiapas, which have very high percentages that can set more laudable, more achievable goals than perhaps an entity like Mexico City, which is one of the lowest percentages, can they could have other kinds of goals there,” he added.

Globally, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reported that almost 12 million women in 115 countries have lost access to family planning services due to the health emergency caused by the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

In Mexico, ENAPEA continued its services webinarHowever, it has not been able to reach all regions because not all communities have access to the Internet and other technologies. Given this, the government program presented the ENAPEA Framework 2021-2024, in which the strategy was reoriented due to the effects of the pandemic on girls and adolescents.

Pregnancy among teenage girls has increased during the pandemic. Photo: Ivan Stevens, Cuartoscuro

“Although we did not delve into this analysis of the technology and how much it affects it, we analyzed the state reports and could give some examples of good practices that we found in some entities. In Michoacán and Tabasco, we were told that one very successful program involves adolescents and young people being replicators of sexual information or comprehensive sexual education. […] There was also a very successful case in Tabasco, where through the Mexican Foundation for Family Planning (Mexfam), carts were sent to distribute face masks and antibacterial gel during the pandemic, under the pretext of leaving condoms aside,” says the author of the report. .

Finally, the sociologist, also a graduate of the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM), pointed out that in the report they recommend that ENAPEA reaffirm its approach to rights and that it be replicated to all people who collaborate – civil servants, civil society, teachers, medical staff, among others, so that this strategy can be implemented.

“What we found when we dug into the report was a patchwork of approaches […] We find two areas of opportunity in ENAPEA, one related to cross-sectoral coordination, i.e. in ENAPEA many government sectors are involved and that means that depending on the stay, it’s the focus of the goals and finally, between governments, which is one of the main problems that we recovered because there are very few states, only eight, that report coordination between federal, state and municipal governments’.

Rent Quintero

Music is my forte. I experience it at concerts and festivals. I write about entertainment and describe myself as a true fan of the series. I’m a fan of the MCU and romantic comedies.

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