SANTO DOMINGO.- Various entities held the first international forum “Challenging Practices that Harm Dominican Girls and Adolescents” with the aim of contributing to changing the norms that promote early unions and teenage pregnancy.
It was a space for dialogue and work, which is part of the Fabricando Sueños initiative, promoted by UNFPA, in collaboration with the Spanish Cooperation Agency (AECID), focused on empowering girls and adolescents to present them with the opportunity to develop a project for life other than motherhood and teenage pregnancy, through safe, scientific and effective tools that enable the strengthening of their citizenship and prepare them for independent, healthy lives free from violence.
Evidence shows that the availability of quality education, including comprehensive sexuality education, in addition to ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health services and promoting life projects, are vital elements in preventing unwanted pregnancy at an early age.
According to World Bank data, the national adolescent fertility rate in 2019 was 92 births per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19, doubling the global rate of 42. In 2021 alone, 25,190 boys and girls were born to mothers in adolescence, which is equal to 69 births per day and represents 22% of the births that occurred in the country that year. This is closely related to the fact that by the age of 17, 1 in 4 adolescents have already started a union, and 27% of them reported an unsatisfied search for family planning methods.
In this sense, within the framework of the forum, the institutions involved in the development and care of Dominican children and adolescents exchanged experiences on successful models of intervention aimed at preventing pregnancies, early unions and positive masculinity both nationally and internationally.
The opening remarks of this event were given by the First Lady, Raquel Arbaye, in her capacity as President of the Cabinet for Children and Adolescents, who confirmed that progress is being made with a decision never seen before.
“I have no doubt that we will eradicate the social culture that whitewashes the drama of early marriage and motherhood for girls and teenagers. With our tireless work, we will put an end to both because they are not legitimate or good, but rather a bomb that detonates the opportunity for girls and adolescents to build a life worth living,” he said. Arbaje.
Addressing the audience, Luisa Isabel Ovando, President of the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI), emphasized that “with the entry into force on January 12, 2021 of Law No. 1-21, which prohibits child marriage, and With the implementation of the National Policy for the Prevention and Care of Early Unions and Adolescent Pregnancy, we believe that the framework of guarantees for the protection and well-being of children will be consolidated”
In this sense, the Minister of Women, Mayra Jiménez, pointed out that the social normalization of early unions and teenage pregnancy continues to affect the present and the future, and this reduces the opportunities to fight poverty and deepens inequality in society. She emphasized that although the remaining work to be done is enormous, high commitment and coordinated efforts with important allied institutions and organizations will enable every girl and adolescent to live without violence, excel in the arts, in sports, in the study of sciences, in technology, “that they live healthily and safely, that they dream and succeed in realizing those dreams”.
In his speech, the Minister of Youth, Raphael J. Feliz, reaffirmed her commitment to equality by creating a more inclusive and fair environment and public policies. “From the Ministry of Youth, we are working hand in hand with UNFPA and GANA in developing actions to raise awareness of teenage pregnancy prevention across the national territory.
Likewise, we strengthen capacity on issues of violence prevention and deconstruction of social imaginaries; as well as promoting actions that promote girls and adolescents as agents of change, allowing them to idealize scenarios that generate alternative life plans in them, providing them with educational support and other tools for their positive development that open the doors to endless possibilities. we guarantee their rights and give them the power to create their dreams,” Felix said.
Likewise, the UNFPA National Representative, Sonia Vasquez, emphasized the intention of the international forum, which is to stimulate synergy between government institutions, civil society and other sectors that work for girls and adolescents to position together the denaturalization of early unions and pregnancies in teenagers.
She affirmed that the theme of this year’s Day of the Girl is “Our time has come: our rights, our future”, reminding us that girls are ready to continue progressing and it is time governments, society, civil servants, authorities, their families , community leaders and the general public are committed to investing in a future that believes in their organizational capacity, their leadership and their potential”.
Campaign “I believe in your power”
During the activity, the launch of the “I believe in your power” campaign was also carried out, which under the motto: “All girls and adolescents have the right to realize their dreams”, aims to promote the power that girls have in developing a life project, different from early unions and teenage pregnancy and in which all sectors of society are called to be involved This initiative was presented by three teenagers who are part of the Making Dreams Girls Clubs.
The event also involved local institutions and organizations with work experience focused on girls and adolescents, such as the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development (MEPyD), the Cabinet of Social Policies and CEDI-Mujer, Profamilia, Save the Children, CIPAF, Girls not Brides Days for Girls, Children International, etc.
As well as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Cabinet for Children and Adolescents (GANA) and the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI), in coordination with the Ministry of Women, the Ministry of Public Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Youth, the Ministry of Health (MSP) and the National Health Service (SNS), as well as the National Police, the Supérate, the Judiciary and the Plan Internacional