Kenya is currently grappling with spiraling teenage pregnancy rates. As per the data published by the Kenya Health Information Systems, in the first five months of 2023, the country recorded over 110,821 pregnancies among adolescents aged between 10 to 19. Of these, 6,110 were in the 10 to 14 age group, whereas 104,711 were between 15 and 19 years.
To highlight the seriousness of this crisis and to urge the Kenyan government to introduce Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in schools, Nguvu Change Leaders — Dambalash Ermiyas Males, Sylvia Awinja, Tasline Otieno — have joined forces for a powerful digital movement called #BreakTheCycle.
The three Champions for Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Kenya put out Silent Videos across their social media appealing for ‘0 Teenage Pregnancy’ to #BreakTheCycle of gaps in sexual and reproductive health rights for young people in Kenya. With placards that carry these messages, the videos are an urgent appeal to destigmatise sex education in a conservative society, inviting people to demonstrate their support through a simple gesture.
“I was raised by a single mother who faced the harsh realities of early pregnancy, and I’ve witnessed the struggles and sacrifices firsthand. No one should endure what my mother went through or what countless young mothers face today. We launched #BreakTheCycle as a powerful collective action, because we believe every young woman deserves to know her sexual and reproductive health rights,” says Nguvu Change Leader Sylvia, who is an Adolescent Health Advocate.
She, along with fellow Nguvu Change leaders, Tasline and Dambalash, has been shedding light on the common yet unsafe behaviours prevalent across Kenya which often led to a higher risk of STIs and teenage pregnancies. The #BreakTheCycle movement aims to amplify the critically important conversation around Comprehensive Sex Education through similar videos across their social media platforms.
Tasline, a Gender Advocate, took cognisance of the teenage pregnancy crisis in her village called Kosoko, in Homabay County, and emphasised its risky consequences, including birth complications, HIV/AIDS infections, postpartum depression, and gender-based violence. “As someone who has seen the impact of teenage pregnancies up close, I can’t stay silent. I’ve watched dreams crumble and we need to urgently #BreakTheCycle by providing education, erasing the stigma, and offering hope to make sure every child’s future is defined by opportunities, not obstacles,” she emphatically shares.
All three Nguvu Change Leaders started this movement earlier this year through online petitions which have gathered support from over 3000 people in Kenya.
“It’s not just about signing a petition; it’s a gesture of solidarity where we all extend a helping hand and compassion to every single youth. We’re appealing to the National Assembly and the Ministry of Education to grant access to age-appropriate human sexuality education both for school and out-of-school programmes. Our digital campaigns are a pivotal step in our #BreakTheCycle movement and we hope more people will join us with their stories to drive change,” said Dambalash, a Youth advocate with Network for Adolescent And Youth of Africa.
The need for CSE in Kenyan schools is urgent and as more voices join this campaign, there is hope that, empowered with information and support, the Kenyan youth will learn to navigate their challenges with success and confidence.