A Step in the Rights’ Direction: Advocacy, Negotiation, and Money as Tools for Realising the Right to Education for Pregnant Girls in Sierra Leone During the Ebola Epidemic
- 361 Downloads
One of the consequences of the Ebola crisis was school closures across the subregion. In Sierra Leone, where the authors were based working for the Irish government, a significant increase in teenage pregnancy was reported during the crisis. This was attributed, in part, to the school closures and, in part, to other issues, such as increases in the vulnerability of girls due to Ebola. Much as this picture was bleak, sometimes in a crisis comes unexpected opportunity. Pregnant girls were, de facto, banned from attending school in Sierra Leone prior to Ebola. However, the Ebola outbreak led to an increased awareness of the Sierra Leonean government leadership of the scale of teenage pregnancy in the country. This led to a new partnership of the government of Sierra Leone with the members of the international community, led by Irish Aid, to provide access to the formal education system for pregnant girls. Fourteen thousand, five hundred girls benefited from this programme in its first year, although significant dilemmas and challenges were also encountered. Lessons include the benefit of international actors working closely with government to identify opportunities on issues of concern and to negotiate improved programmes, and then being adaptable enough to support and fund improved programmes if they emerge.
KeywordsAdolescent girls Education Pregnancy Teenage pregnancy Ebola Discrimination Human rights Sierra Leone Advocacy Ebola virus disease School closures Irish Aid
We would like to acknowledge the work of Gibril Kargbo from Irish Aid on this programme. We are grateful to DFID, UNICEF, and UNFPA for their collaboration on this programme.
- African Development Bank Group. (2016). Sierra Leone economic outlook. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from https://www.afdb.org/en/countries/west-africa/sierra-leone/sierra-leone-economic-outlook/.
- Amnesty International Publications. (2015). Shamed and blamed: Pregnant girls’ rights at risk in Sierra Leone. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/AFR5126952015ENGLISH.PDF.
- Brighton and Hove Council. (2014). Policy: Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs.Google Scholar
- Coinco, E. (2008). The out of school children of Sierra Leone, executive summary. UNICEF. Retrieved October 12, 2017, from http://allinschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/OOSC_Sierra-Leone.pdf.
- Denney, L., & Gordon, R. (2016). How to reduce teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone, Briefing paper 18. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5901d4f0ed915d06ac000288/BP18_How_to_reduce_teenage_pregnancy_in_Sierra_Leone.pdf.
- Denney, L., Gordon, R., & Ibrahim, A. (2015). Teenage pregnancy after Ebola in Sierra Leone: Mapping responses, gaps and ongoing challenges: Working Paper 39. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/57a0898ee5274a27b2000133/SLRC-WP39.pdf.
- Denney, L., Gordon, R., Kamara, A., & Lebby, P. (2016). Change the context not the girls: Improving efforts to reduce teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://www.securelivelihoods.org/resources_download.aspx?resourceid=402&documentid=528.
- James, J. (2015). In Sierra Leone, hopes of saving the school year. UNICEF. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from https://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/sierraleone_81528.html.
- Panday, S., Makiwane, M., Ranchod, C., & Letsoalo, T. (2009). Teenage pregnancy in South Africa—With a specific focus on school-going learners. Child, Youth, Family and Social Development, Human Sciences Research Council. Pretoria: Department of Basic Education. Retrieved February 14, 2017, from http://www.scirp.org/(S(351jmbntvnsjt1aadkposzje))/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=70127.
- Risso-Gill, I., & Finnegan, L. (2015). Children’s Ebola recovery assessment: Sierra Leone, Plan International, Save the Children and World Vision International. Retrieved January 7, 2017, from http://www.alnap.org/resource/20472.
- Schwartz, D. A. (2019). The Ebola epidemic halted female genital cutting in Sierra Leone: Temporarily. In D. A. Schwartz, J. N. Anoko, S.A. Abramowitz (Eds.), Pregnant in the Time of Ebola: Women and Their Children in the 2013-2015 West African Epidemic. New York: Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-97636-5.Google Scholar
- Sierra Leone - Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey. (2010). United Nations Children’s Fund and Statistics Sierra Leone. Retrieved from https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=mics+2010+sierra+leone&oq=MICS+2010+sie&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0.4991j0j9&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8.
- Statistics Sierra Leone and ICF International. (2014). Sierra Leone demographic and health survey 2013: Key findings. Retrieved January 5, 2017, from https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/SR215/SR215.pdf.
- Street Child. (2015). The street child Ebola orphan report, January–February 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from https://www.street-child.co.uk/ebola-orphan-report/.
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (2004). Witness to truth: Report of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Vol. 2, Chapter 3, Report of the Sierra Leone TRC). Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://www.sierraleonetrc.org/index.php/view-report-text-vol-2/item/volume-two-chapter-three?category_id=20.
- UNAIDS, UNDP, UNECA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCHR, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIFEM, & WHO (2008). Eliminating Female genital mutilation: An interagency statement. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/43839/1/9789241596442_eng.pdf.
- UNDP. (2015a). Human Development Report 2015, briefing note for countries on the 2015 Human Development Report: Sierra Leone. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://www.sl.undp.org/content/dam/sierraleone/docs/HDRs/Sierra%20Leone%20Explanatory%20Note.pdf?download.
- UNDP. (2015b). Assessing sexual and gender based violence during the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://www.sl.undp.org/content/sierraleone/en/home/library/crisis_prevention_and_recovery/assessing-sexual-and-gender-based-violence-during-the-ebola-cris.html.
- UNFPA. (2013). State of world population 2013 motherhood in childhood: Facing the challenge of adolescent. Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://www.unfpa.org/publications/state-world-population-2013.
- UNFPA. (2016). Rapid assessment of pregnant adolescent girls in Sierra Leone. Unpublished Report.Google Scholar
- UNFPA, UNICEF, Government of Sierra Leone, & Nestbuilders International. (2017). Pre and post-test providing services to the pregnant school girls project: Final report.Google Scholar
- UNICEF. (2015). Best practices on educational support for pregnant girls and young mothers. Unpublished Report.Google Scholar
- UNICEF. (2016). Female genital mutilation, a global concern. Retrieved January 27, 2017, from https://www.unicef.org/media/files/FGMC_2016_brochure_final_UNICEF_SPREAD.pdf.
- UNICEF, Global Education Cluster, INEE, & Save the Children (2015). Safe access to learning, during and after the Ebola crisis. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://educationcluster.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/EducationInEbola_JointAdvocayBrief.pdf.
- WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group, & United Nation Population Division. (2015). Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2015, estimates by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and the United Nations Population Division, executive summary. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/193994/1/WHO_RHR_15.23_eng.pdf.