Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Day (this past Wednesday, September 26) hosted various activities that set the scene for a discussion of the issue and its national prevalence. According to the National Health and Demographic Survey (ENDESA) 2007, 20 percent of pregnancies in the Dominican Republic occur among young women between 15 and 19 years old, which places the nation in the Top 5 of Latin American countries with the highest rates of teen pregnancy. Additionally, recent statements from the Ministry of Health and the United Nations confirm that there has been a significant increase in the number of pregnant teenagers during the last few years, a finding that has reinstated the topic among the top priorities of the public agenda.
Many state institutions and international organizations sponsored conferences and talks to confront the issue and encourage inter-institutional alliances to strengthen the National Plan to Prevent Adolescent Pregnancy [es] and other initiatives. However, one of the most interesting mobilizations was a march of more than 2,000 youth from different educational centers, who marched two kilometers below the slogan “Adolescente no te embaraces” (“Teen, don't get pregnant”), with the goal of raising awareness of the high incidence of pregnancy among teenagers, as well as to combat HIV, domestic violence and the high national rate of murdered women. It was an effective manifestation of civil and community empowerment that defined the youth as authors of their own change.
A video uploded to YouTube on September 27, 2012, by user Dominicanos Ausentes, captured small snapshots of the march, as well as the opinions of some participants. For example, at 00:28 seconds, one young woman states that Dominican youth are having sex without considering the consequences.
Some media figures shared important data about teen pregnancy with their social media followers — people such as journalist Altagracia Salazar, who published this on her Twitter account:
@altagraciasa: Mas del 80 por ciento de las adolescentes embarazadas son pobres y abandonan la escuela.
@altagraciasa: More than 80 percent of pregnant teens are poor and have dropped out of school.
This information is supported by statistics that confirm that the provinces with the nation's highest pregnancy rates are Azua (37 %), Pedernales (35 %), Bahoruco (35 %) y Elías Piña (30 %), all of which are located near the border.
Ingrid Gómez, a television host and spokeswoman for the “Por ser Niña” campaign run by Plan, an international organization working on community development focused on children, said that:
@ingridgomezMAB: cuatro barreras las limitan #porserniña Embarazo en adolescentes,la violencia de genero y el acceso desigual a oportunidades @Plan_RD
@ingridgomezMAB: four barriers limit #porserniña Teen pregnancy, gender-based violence and inequal access to opportunities @Plan_RD.
The NGO Profamilia also raised this demand through the same platform:
@profamiliaRD: Profamilia demanda que se implemente Plan Nacional de Prevención de embarazo en adolescentes.
@profamiliaRD: Profamilia demands the implementation of a national plan to prevent teen pregnancy.
In addition, on September 26 the representative Juana Vicente submitted a proposal to the National Congress petitioning to declare that day the National Day of Teenage Pregnancy Prevention.
*Photo taken from the UNFPA Twitter account.