Key Messages

General information

  • Teenage pregnancy is not just a health issue. It is deeply rooted in poverty, gender inequality, violence, forced marriage, power imbalances between girls and their partners, lack of education...
  • In Sierra Leone, the majority of adolescent girls who become pregnant are married and pressured to have a child.
  • For far too many girls, the pregnancy has little to do with choices, but is undeniably a consequence of rights violations, including child marriage and abusive, coerced and forced sex. 
  • The youngest, first-time pregnant mothers also bear a significantly high risk of maternal death and disabilities, including obstetric fistula.  Compared to older women, many adolescent girls are more likely to give birth without a skilled attendant.
  • Teenage pregnancy is a development issue. The price of teenage pregnancy is lost potential:  foreshortened education, lack of opportunities, constrained life options and stubborn poverty for the poorest, first-time young mothers and their communities.


Facts and figures on teenage pregnancy

  • 34% of all pregnancies occur amongst teenage girls. This is more than one in every three girls.


  • Teenage mothers start child bearing at very young ages, a few as young as 9 years.


  • 40% of maternal death occur as a result of teenage pregnancy.


  • Teenage pregnancy of young girls is one of the most common reasons for them dropping out of school


  • 71% of teenage mothers are reported to be illiterate


  • 76% of teenage mothers are married


  • 94.7% of married girls aged 15 to 19 years are not using any method of contraception.


  • Only 8% of teenage mothers report that their first partner was of the same age or younger, when 35% indicate that the partner was more than 10 year older


  • Complications from pregnancy and childbirth continue to be the leading cause of death among adolescent girls aged 15 – 19 in Sierra Leone.


  • Adolescent girls also face high levels of morbidity and death as a result of unsafe abortion.


  • Stillbirths and death are 50% more likely for babies born to mothers younger than 20 than for babies born to mothers aged 20-29.


Consequences of teenage pregnancy

  • All teenage pregnancies have adverse consequences for the girls, the parents and the communities.
  • Teenage pregnancy is dangerous. Pregnancy is the leading cause of death for adolescent girls and the youngest girls are particularly at risk. Adolescents, and particularly young adolescents, are more likely to have long and obstructed labors due to their smaller size and immature pelvic structure. This not only increases their risk of death, but also their risk of developing fistula.
  • Unsafe abortion kills many pregnant adolescents; one-third of teen pregnancies end in abortion.
  • Teenage pregnancy is identified as a determinant for school drop-out of girls. At the end of upper secondary, access rates are estimated at 32 percent for boys against just 14 percent for girls.


The National Strategy for the Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy

  • The National Strategy was launched on the 13th of May by H.E. the President. It is a flagship project in the Agenda for Prosperity and a national priority.
  • It was developed by a multi-sectoral committee, involving 6 Ministries (Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Youth, Ministry of Gender, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Local Government) as well as key stakeholders (UN-Agencies, NGOs, civil society)
  • The strategy’s expected outcome is to reduce teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone by 2015, through integrated and coordinated interventions of all partners.
  • By 2015, the strategy intends to have reduced the % of teenage mothers from 34 to less than 30 percent
The Motto of the Strategy is: LET GIRLS BE GIRLS, NOT MOTHERS.