Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Zimbabwe has seen a significant rise in teenage pregnancies especially during the lockdown.
According to Africanews, in Murehwa, an area in Zimbabwe, 13-year-old Virginia who lives with her parents said when she stopped going to school in March 2021, her teacher came to her house to ask why she stopped school.
“I admitted I was pregnant and not coming back to school, so she removed me from the school register,” she said.
She added that she had hoped the man who impregnated her would marry her, but he later deny paternity.
The Africanews reported that, despite Zimbabwean law putting the age of consent at 16, at least 5,000 minors fell pregnant like Virginia did.
Government and non-governmental organizations in the country say that the COVID-19 lockdowns increased idleness, and also led to lack of access to contraceptives.
A Communications Director in the primary and Secondary Education Ministry of Zimbabwe stated that;
“We have had quite a number of girls who fell pregnant because of the COVID-19 lockdowns, and led to them leaving school.”
“But with the policy of Education Amendment Act, we have been hosting community outreach programs to encourage them to come back to school to continue with their education.”
Aside from going back to school, the girls are privileged to enrol on programs to equip them with skills.
According to Medecins Sans Frontieres clinic, an NGO that provides an alternative for these teens, the field communications manager, Grace Mavhezha, said;
“These life skills are aimed at empowering these girls, as it gets them some money, and after, they may open salons for pedicure and manicure or sell liquid soap,”
Most of the girls develop new skills which often helps them envision a brighter future for themselves and their babies.