Facts & Statistics

Globally, it is estimated that 14 Million adolescents between the age of 15 and 19 give birth. Uncounted others are even younger when they have babies. On average, one third of young women in developing countries give birth before age 20 (UNFPA, 2012). Regionally, adolescent childbearing is most prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa. More than 50% of adolescent girls give birth by age 20 (WHO 2010).

In developing countries it is estimated that 19% of teenage girls give birth before the age of 18. in Sierra Leone, this figure reaches 34%

In Sierra Leone, teenage pregnancy and teenage pregnancy is one of the more pervasive problems affecting the health, social, economic and political progress and empowerment of women and girls.

The issue to address is alarming and is reflected in the following national statistics:

  1. 34% of all pregnancies occur amongst teenage girls (SLDHS 2008)
  2. 26% of women age 15-19 have already had a birth (MICS 2010)
  3. 40% of maternal death occur as a result of teenage pregnancy (MICS 2010)
  4. The untimely pregnancy of young girls is ranked as the third most common reason for them dropping out of school (UNICEF 2008)
  5. 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 (SLDHS 2008).

A study, commissioned by UNFPA (“Children bearing Children”, 2010) to analyze data from the SLDHS 2008 revealed that teenage mothers start child bearing at very young ages, a few as young as 9 years. It also revealed that incidence of teenage motherhood is higher in rural localities.

In Sierra Leone, teenage pregnancy and teenage pregnancy is one of the more pervasive problems affecting the health, social, economic and political progress and empowerment of women and girls.

The MICS 2010 estimate of the Adolescent Birth Rate in Sierra Leone is 122 births per 1000 women aged 15-19 per year; this compares with an estimate of 129 in West and Central Africa (2000-2008) and 123 in least developed countries (The State of the World’s Children 2011).

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Analysis of both SLDHS 2008 and MICS 2010 shows that poverty and low education are major causes of teenage pregnancy. Poverty and low education are mutually reinforcing in a negative fashion. To tackle teenage pregnancy, services and interventions would have to target these causes (On this specific point, see 2011 Study “Children bearing children”, UNFPA).

Also, it has been identified that there is a paucity of strategic direction to address the problem teenage pregnancy reflected in, on the one hand, ineffective implementation of programmes to help girls protect themselves from early pregnancy and stay in school, and on the other hand, weak enforcement of laws that protect teenage girls from abuse and exploitation.